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Author Ellery Adams once again regales cozy mystery lovers with a multifaceted, fast-paced, and ultimately heartwarming whodunnit in this fifth book in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society series. In Miracle Springs, N.C., bookstore owner and bibliotherapist Nora Pennington continues to enjoy the friendship of Hester Winthrop, Estella Sadler, and June Dixon, business women who became friends several years ago when the death of a stranger had brought them together. Now privately dubbed the Secret, Scone, and Book Society, the women, a sisterhood of former strangers, still regularly meet in Miracle Books to discuss books and share their secrets, joys, and burdens. Many other tourists and locals also experience Miracle Books as “a haven of stories and serenity, of coffee and comfy chairs, of discovery and delight. In a chaotic world, it was an oasis of calm.” 

But a sinister discovery threatens to negate Nora’s and the bookstore’s calm. Around the time Deputy Andrews, Hester’s boyfriend, asks Nora to help him plan a surprise event so he can propose to Hester, Nora notices that all the store’s copies of The Scarlet Letter have been damaged on the pages where the character Hester Prynne’s name appears. Nora immediately suspects that the person who marred the books has a connection to a secret Hester Winthrop shared with her friends—when she was a teen, she gave birth to a baby girl and was forced by her abusive parents to give the child up for adoption.   

When a dead man, with a rare book in his pocket, is found on a trail, and other books from the same obscure series seem to randomly appear in town, Nora and her friends join forces to try to find answers to the questions raised by these and evolving, increasingly chaotic and dangerous events—circumstances that not only led to murder, but now threaten Hester's safety.   

Author Ellery Adams provides sufficient back story to each of the other books in her series so readers need not have read all of them to enjoy this latest addition. Includes some offensive language. (Kensington)

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