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LIFE BECOMES STRANGER THAN FICTION WHEN CHARLEE'S LATEST NOVEL INSPIRES A REAL MURDER Mystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination--until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee's new, unpublished manuscript. Suspicion now swirls around her and her critique group LIFE BECOMES STRANGER THAN FICTION WHEN CHARLEE'S LATEST NOVEL INSPIRES A REAL MURDER Mystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination--until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee's new, unpublished manuscript. Suspicion now swirls around her and her critique group, making her confidence drop as severely and unexpectedly as her royalty payments. The police care more about Charlee's feeble alibi and financial problems than they do her panicky claims of innocence. To clear her name and revive her career, she must figure out which of her friends is a murderer. Easier said than done, even for an author who's skilled at creating tidy endings for her mysteries. And as her sleuthing grows dangerous, Charlee's imagination starts working overtime. Is she being targeted, too?


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LIFE BECOMES STRANGER THAN FICTION WHEN CHARLEE'S LATEST NOVEL INSPIRES A REAL MURDER Mystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination--until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee's new, unpublished manuscript. Suspicion now swirls around her and her critique group LIFE BECOMES STRANGER THAN FICTION WHEN CHARLEE'S LATEST NOVEL INSPIRES A REAL MURDER Mystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination--until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee's new, unpublished manuscript. Suspicion now swirls around her and her critique group, making her confidence drop as severely and unexpectedly as her royalty payments. The police care more about Charlee's feeble alibi and financial problems than they do her panicky claims of innocence. To clear her name and revive her career, she must figure out which of her friends is a murderer. Easier said than done, even for an author who's skilled at creating tidy endings for her mysteries. And as her sleuthing grows dangerous, Charlee's imagination starts working overtime. Is she being targeted, too?

30 review for Fiction Can Be Murder

  1. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    I really enjoyed this laugh-out-loud mystery. Charlemagne “Charlee” Russo is a likeable a heroine. A mystery writer with a penchant for spilling beverages and food on herself and things around her, she becomes the focal point when her literary agent is murdered—in the exact manner Charlee wrote about in her as-yet-to-be-published novel. The suspects are the members of her critique group and her beta readers—friends and family willing to read the unpublished work as a nonprofessional. Also, of cour I really enjoyed this laugh-out-loud mystery. Charlemagne “Charlee” Russo is a likeable a heroine. A mystery writer with a penchant for spilling beverages and food on herself and things around her, she becomes the focal point when her literary agent is murdered—in the exact manner Charlee wrote about in her as-yet-to-be-published novel. The suspects are the members of her critique group and her beta readers—friends and family willing to read the unpublished work as a nonprofessional. Also, of course, Melinda’s spouse. A few places were a little slow—I didn’t need quite that much detail about what it’s like to drive through traffic on a snowy day, even if Charlee is worried that an SUV is trying to run her down. This is a fun read. Thanks so much to NetGalley and Midnight Ink for the opportunity to review this book. For more reviews, please visit: http://www.theresaalan.net/blog

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark is the first book in the new Mystery Writer’s Mystery series. As the series titles suggests this new series centers around Charlemagne “Charlee” Russo who is an author who writes murder mysteries. While Charlee is at her book group meeting her phone begins ringing like crazy and when she finally answers she gets the news that her agent has been found murdered and the police are on the way to talk with her. It seems that Charlee’s agent was killed in the exact Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark is the first book in the new Mystery Writer’s Mystery series. As the series titles suggests this new series centers around Charlemagne “Charlee” Russo who is an author who writes murder mysteries. While Charlee is at her book group meeting her phone begins ringing like crazy and when she finally answers she gets the news that her agent has been found murdered and the police are on the way to talk with her. It seems that Charlee’s agent was killed in the exact same way as her latest manuscript that she had just sent over the week before. Now Charlee knows that she isn’t the killer but isn’t sure the police believe she’s innocent. She also thinks that the killer is either after her and her friends or trying to set her up for murder so Charlee decides to look into the murder herself starting with those that had access to her book. First I would say I loved that this one jumps right into the murder in the opening pages after having done a few very slow movers lately it was nice to get going quickly. And I would also note that there are quite a few funny moments in here that I caught myself laughing out loud. There were also plenty of suspects to not make the murderer obvious. However, as much as I liked following an author on her quest to find out who could have used her work to kill there were times in this one I just didn’t find events going on to be believable, mostly with her questioning really. When finished with Fiction Can Be Murder there were some things that I liked and some that I didn’t leaving me to rate this one at 3.5 stars for a solid beginning but room to improve in the future. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    jv poore

    Semi-successful mystery writer, Charlee, has penned the perfect murder. At least according to her critique group, beta readers, boyfriend and agent. And yes, even if she does say so herself. But before it goes to print, her diabolical plan is implemented in the real-life murder of her agent. Melinda Walters wasn’t well-liked. Maybe not even respected. Actually, not even an awesome agent. Few will weep when hearing of her untimely demise. The apparent automobile accident is instead, the result of Semi-successful mystery writer, Charlee, has penned the perfect murder. At least according to her critique group, beta readers, boyfriend and agent. And yes, even if she does say so herself. But before it goes to print, her diabolical plan is implemented in the real-life murder of her agent. Melinda Walters wasn’t well-liked. Maybe not even respected. Actually, not even an awesome agent. Few will weep when hearing of her untimely demise. The apparent automobile accident is instead, the result of a properly executed plan. Although there may be many with apparent motive, the suspect pool shrinks to only those who could have set the scene exactly as it was written. Charlee has no reason to doubt the local law enforcement. Her father died in the line of duty. There was some speculation, but she assumed it must be normal and willfully blocked it out. Besides, her brother is a policeman and he is successful, trusted and well-liked. Probably. Regardless, it’s clearly best if she conducts her own investigation. Charlee kicks relationships to the curb and treats everyone in her inner circle as a suspect. Turns out, even when not involved in criminal activity, there are a plethora of reasons to maintain privacy. I found Ms. Clark’s Fiction Can Be Murder to be a very quick and (this must sound strange) but…light read. I quite enjoyed the moment that Charlee spent writing anything-but-murder-mysteries. Although this novel falls into the Fiction: Mystery genre, as opposed to my usual Young Adult, I’ll be passing it on to my favorite classroom library where I’m sure it will be well-received. This review was written for Buried Under Books by jv poore.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ell

    I appreciate it when a book can get my full attention in the first dozen pages - maybe there is a good hook; maybe I can instantly connect with the characters; maybe the writing just draws me in. Happily, all three happened for me while reading, “Fiction Can Be Murder.” It is the first in the Mystery Writer’s Mystery series. It is quick paced and entertaining and I am so glad I decided to check out this new series! The main character makes sense as a sleuth. Charlee is a mystery writer who does I appreciate it when a book can get my full attention in the first dozen pages - maybe there is a good hook; maybe I can instantly connect with the characters; maybe the writing just draws me in. Happily, all three happened for me while reading, “Fiction Can Be Murder.” It is the first in the Mystery Writer’s Mystery series. It is quick paced and entertaining and I am so glad I decided to check out this new series! The main character makes sense as a sleuth. Charlee is a mystery writer who does a fair bit of research to create her fictional crimes. Her brother is a policeman, as was her father. The suspects are intriguing and the ending is fulfilling. I am looking forward to reading other books by Becky Clark! I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my rating. I have provided an unbiased and honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really enjoyed this mystery, and it was an especially nice change of pace from my usual read - cozy mysteries. The protagonist, Charlee, is a mystery author whose agent is murdered in a well-planned, unusual way, and she must find the killer before she's arrested for the crime or winds up next on the killer's radar. There are several strong suspects, but they all had verifiable alibis, so it's a challenging mystery to solve. I appreciated how realistic Charlee is, and liked her wit and sarcasm I really enjoyed this mystery, and it was an especially nice change of pace from my usual read - cozy mysteries. The protagonist, Charlee, is a mystery author whose agent is murdered in a well-planned, unusual way, and she must find the killer before she's arrested for the crime or winds up next on the killer's radar. There are several strong suspects, but they all had verifiable alibis, so it's a challenging mystery to solve. I appreciated how realistic Charlee is, and liked her wit and sarcasm. I look forward to reading more about Charlee and other books by Becky Clark! I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Darinda

    Charlee's agent is killed in the same manner as a character in her new, unpublished novel. So, clearly, Charlee is suspect #1. Also on the list of suspects are her beta readers and critique group. The suspect field is small, but Charlee must look at her friends as suspects to find the killer. Entertaining and fun. Charlee knows she is innocent, but everyone, even her friends, think she's guilty. A quick read with some humor. I especially enjoyed the interactions Charlee had with her critique gro Charlee's agent is killed in the same manner as a character in her new, unpublished novel. So, clearly, Charlee is suspect #1. Also on the list of suspects are her beta readers and critique group. The suspect field is small, but Charlee must look at her friends as suspects to find the killer. Entertaining and fun. Charlee knows she is innocent, but everyone, even her friends, think she's guilty. A quick read with some humor. I especially enjoyed the interactions Charlee had with her critique group. The 1st book in the Mystery Writer's series. I enjoy mysteries and books about books, so this one was right up my alley. I look forward to reading more of this series. I received a digital copy of this book from Midnight Ink and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    LORI (Dollycas) CASWELL

    Dollycas’s Thoughts Fiction easily becomes murder when literary agent, Melinda Walter is killed in exactly the same way as the victim in author, Charlemagne “Charlee” Russo’s latest manuscript. Charlee had problems with the woman but never plotted to kill her. So who else had access to the manuscript? Could someone in her critique group have done the deed and used her book to frame her? Stranger than fiction she puts on her sleuthing cap to bring this murder mystery to an end. Hopefully, she’ll s Dollycas’s Thoughts Fiction easily becomes murder when literary agent, Melinda Walter is killed in exactly the same way as the victim in author, Charlemagne “Charlee” Russo’s latest manuscript. Charlee had problems with the woman but never plotted to kill her. So who else had access to the manuscript? Could someone in her critique group have done the deed and used her book to frame her? Stranger than fiction she puts on her sleuthing cap to bring this murder mystery to an end. Hopefully, she’ll survive to tell the tale. I would call this a cozy-ish mystery. Charlee Russo is a cleverly written imperfect amateur sleuth, very clutzy with a wild imagination, a good thing when you write mysteries for a living, not so much when you are on the trail of a killer. She is protective of her friends but still needs to question and verify everyone’s alibi as much for her peace of mind as to solving the case. Let’s just say her investigating techniques need a little refinement as I was a little frightened by the positions she found herself in at times. The pacing was mixed. The story starts out briskly but slowed a bit in the middle but then the ending felt a bit rushed. With plenty of twists and a few red herrings, I was completely confused until everything was laid out for me. It was a fun tagging along with Charlee. I always enjoy a challenging mystery. The dialogue is very realistic and I liked the humor interspersed throughout. “I’d tell you to go to hell, but I never want to see you again.” This series is off to a fine start and I am looking forward to the next book in this series. I do love the Mystery Writer’s theme. The author has left plenty of room for the secondary characters and Charlee to grow. She also left an open question in this story that I hope will be wrapped up in the next.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex M.

    ✎ About the book:  Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo is a mystery author that has a great affinity for murder in her writing. All is sunshine and rainbows until her agent is found killed in the exact way as one of the characters from her book.  "How can I be drowning in the driver's seat of my car two block from home?" ✎ Review: "Fiction Can Be Murder" appealed to me because of the title - fiction can, indeed, BE a figurative murder but in this novel's case takes a literal one also. "Fiction Can Be Murd ✎ About the book:  Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo is a mystery author that has a great affinity for murder in her writing. All is sunshine and rainbows until her agent is found killed in the exact way as one of the characters from her book.  "How can I be drowning in the driver's seat of my car two block from home?" ✎ Review: "Fiction Can Be Murder" appealed to me because of the title - fiction can, indeed, BE a figurative murder but in this novel's case takes a literal one also. "Fiction Can Be Murder" can be easily described as a mystery's writer worst nightmare. The prologue has a movie-like vibe where we see a character face a face with Death. The character is also the a big  cliché  for almost all mysteries (the modern ones in particular), especially when you try to picture the imagine in your head. The prologue also made me think this book was going to be written in third person only to have me surprised when I got to the first chapter - haha! I am not a huge fan when it comes to being in the narrator's head but this book managed to  make me like this perspective quite a bit. I also think the author has an affinity for cars. He extended hid had to help me out. "I can wash it while you're here." "My hand?" He smiled indulgently. "Your car."  Right? xD  The books is, among other things, about a writer and that writer has a group of friends - also writers. I enjoyed a lot the way they were introduced. Any bookworm/writer will understand their puns, reactions and behaviour. It brought a nice touch to the general story. Their dialogue is also nice and it gives an amusing tone to the book that made me think : "this is going to be such a funny read!" About murder. Oh. To be honest, I expected things to go a bit slower but the book was really fast paced and full of reactions that would have looked better in a TV show or a play. I found them a bit exaggerated and not 100% natural for a real human being. One of the things I really enjoyed were all the questions the main character was asking. She had those panic moments when all she could thing about were criminals, crimes, scary scenarios and paranoia. Being in the head of someone who lived a lot in a fictive universe was a fun experience.  The entire book is centred around Charlee suspecting everyone that had a copy of her manuscript (and their friends/family in some cases). I found some suspects to be not suspicious enough and a few times I questioned the way she did her investigation. She was also really subjective, eliminating suspects from the list just because she didn't ''feel'' they were the criminals. Nonetheless it wasn't that annoying and I can't say I had a problem with that. She was, after all, a writer not a detective.  In conclusion,  this was a quick and entertaining read. It was fast paced with lots of dialogue and characters. I can't say I was surprised by the identity of the killer but I wasn't the one I presumed either. I would recommend it as a quick weekend read or a book you can take with you on a travel.  ( received e-copy from Netgalley for review)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sally906

    : FICTION CAN BE MURDER is the first in the Mystery Writer’s Mystery series and my first book by author Becky Clark. Overall the story is quick paced and entertaining and I really enjoyed it. In fact I laughed out loud quite a few times. Charlee turns into an amateur sleuth when her publishing agent Melinda is murdered. Being an amateur sleuth comes natural for Charlee as she is a mystery writer who knows how to research facts to create her fictional crimes. On top of this her brother is a polic : FICTION CAN BE MURDER is the first in the Mystery Writer’s Mystery series and my first book by author Becky Clark. Overall the story is quick paced and entertaining and I really enjoyed it. In fact I laughed out loud quite a few times. Charlee turns into an amateur sleuth when her publishing agent Melinda is murdered. Being an amateur sleuth comes natural for Charlee as she is a mystery writer who knows how to research facts to create her fictional crimes. On top of this her brother is a policeman, as was her father. The trouble with the murder of her agent is that the way she was murdered was exactly the same way Charlee had her victim murdered in her latest book – which hasn’t been published yet. This means that only those who have read her manuscript would know the method – or Charlee herself. Charlee knows she didn’t do it, but is not sure she can convince the police investigators, so takes matters into her own hands and starts to check the alibies. There turns out to be quite a few suspects to check - the members of her writing critique group; her beta readers who are any friends, family or boyfriend willing to read the manuscript. Also, of course, Melinda’s husband is on the list. Most are easy to cross off the list, some are upset they are even ON the list, and others out and out lie about their alibies for one reason or another. There are lots of twists and turns – as you would expect in a mystery and I didn’t pick who it was until the big reveal – my suspect was completely innocent so I would have been hopeless as a sleuth! The only niggle I had was with a back story about Charlee – She has a tremor – which is only mentioned a few times but what it is triggered by is not very clear. So I wondered about what purpose it served to have it. It is highly probable that I missed the explanation though – and did not affect my enjoyment of the story. I really enjoyed a peek into the writing/publishing world, and early on in the book there is a scene where the writer’s group discuss reader reviews as one member has just returned from consulting with his therapist over a review he read: “…He held up one hand. “In my defense, it was one-star and began, ‘I don’t know anything about astrophysics, but … ’” Ouch. Those hurt. Even I get those. Not about astrophysics, of course, but equally ridiculous. I’m giving Ms. Russo’s book one star because I ordered the wrong book. Or, this is a mystery and I hate reading mysteries, even though the description clearly states it’s a mystery. Or my favorite, I thought this was by Richard Russo, NOT Charlemagne Russo, whoever she is. I LOVE his books. Won’t bother to read hers. It took volumes of emotional maturity to ignore those kinds of bogus reviews…” I will certainly look for more books by Becky Clark as she seems like a very out there person – and her web page is a hoot! With thanks to Midnight Ink and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura M

    Charlee Russo is a mystery writer who is at her writer’s group meeting when she learns her agent is found dead. Sad enough (even though he woman could give the Wicked Witch a run for her money), but what complicates matters is that the agent was murdered in exactly the same way as a victim in one of Charlee’s books. Made worse by the fact that Charlee thought her agent might be skimming some of her book profits, Charlee is starting to look like a darn good suspect. Charlee’s paranoia (understand Charlee Russo is a mystery writer who is at her writer’s group meeting when she learns her agent is found dead. Sad enough (even though he woman could give the Wicked Witch a run for her money), but what complicates matters is that the agent was murdered in exactly the same way as a victim in one of Charlee’s books. Made worse by the fact that Charlee thought her agent might be skimming some of her book profits, Charlee is starting to look like a darn good suspect. Charlee’s paranoia (understandably) starts working overtime, as she suspects everyone in her writer’s group of murder and starts to feel as though SHE might be the next victim. This is the first in the Mystery Writer’s mystery series. The cover looks like it is a cozy mystery, and it KIND of is, but not. It’s a gritter version of a cozy. There is a good dose of humor, but without the usual “cozy” settings and characters. I had to warm up to this book. By the middle I still wasn’t hooked, and quite frankly, if I hadn’t gotten an ARC from NetGalley, I probably would have given up on it. I would have missed out. I enjoyed the ending and the unconventional danger to Charlee. I didn’t guess the killer and the book kept me guessing till the end. I enjoyed it enough to probably give the next one a go, though even as a stand-alone, this is a good book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barb (Boxermommyreads)

    Cute cover right? Makes you want to just curl up in this chair and read the day away right? Well, my suggestion, pick another book to do so. "Fiction Can Be Murder" has the honor of having one of the most annoying characters I have met in a long time. Charlee Russo is a mystery writer, although how I have NO idea because she's pretty darn clueless. One morning, her agent ends up dead and is killed in the exact same manner as written in Charlee's upcoming, unpublished novel. This puts Charlee, as Cute cover right? Makes you want to just curl up in this chair and read the day away right? Well, my suggestion, pick another book to do so. "Fiction Can Be Murder" has the honor of having one of the most annoying characters I have met in a long time. Charlee Russo is a mystery writer, although how I have NO idea because she's pretty darn clueless. One morning, her agent ends up dead and is killed in the exact same manner as written in Charlee's upcoming, unpublished novel. This puts Charlee, as well as her mystery writer's club, as targets for the police investigation and in order to save herself, and those she cares about, Charlee starts looking into the death herself. This book kind of flowed oddly for me. I'm not even sure why but the title itself doesn't even work in my brain. I was able to keep reading because in the end, I really did want to know who killed the bitchy agent. Which I might add no one really seemed to care that she was dead - not even her husband. As I mentioned, Charlee is annoying. In fact, during most of the chats with Stormi, we ended up calling her "paranoid girl." This girl could find reasons why a blade of grass was out to get her. This book also lacked what I love about mose cozies. There's no quaint small town setting and no extremely likable characters (although I did like the elderly upstairs neighbors and the two guys who owned the local book store). I will say there were a couple of cute dogs in the mix. One Charlee rescues from a local alley and one is owned by the elderly couple I mentioned - Peter O'Drool (so the author does get points for the adorable Pug name). I really can't recommend this book to cozy lovers. It was a pretty annoying read. And spoiler alert, Stormi didn't think much of it either. We joked that Charlee probably killed her agent herself and forgot about it because not only is she "paranoid girl" she's "scattered girl." I'm sure plenty of people have enjoyed this book, it just wasn't what I was looking for. Oh well, better luck next time. And I mean it! Stormi and I better have better luck with May's read!!!! I received this book from Netgalley and the published in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A.G.

    This is an entertaining and humorous cozy mystery by Becky Clark that is a bit of a spoof on writers and the writing process, on the vagaries in the publishing world, and on the investigations of an amateur sleuth as well as police procedures. In order to clear herself of the murder of her unpopular publisher, Melinda Walter, who dies in the exact unusual manner as murder mystery writer Charlee Russo's fictional character in her yet unpublished book, Charlee decides that someone in her writers' This is an entertaining and humorous cozy mystery by Becky Clark that is a bit of a spoof on writers and the writing process, on the vagaries in the publishing world, and on the investigations of an amateur sleuth as well as police procedures. In order to clear herself of the murder of her unpopular publisher, Melinda Walter, who dies in the exact unusual manner as murder mystery writer Charlee Russo's fictional character in her yet unpublished book, Charlee decides that someone in her writers' group, or almost anyone who had access to her manuscript, could be the murderer and that murderer also wants to frame or kill her. She also suspects Melinda's husband who becomes Charlee's publisher upon Melinda's death. She becomes paranoid that someone is watching and following her as she attempts her amateur investigations and develops her list of suspects, their motives, and alibis. I liked the way that author Becky Clark presents the thoughts and reasoning processes that Charlee uses in her rather inept, funny, and potentially dangerous investigation as she confronts the various suspects. There is also a backstory involving Charlee's policeman father who is deceased and her brother, Lance, also a policeman, and how that story relates to the present murder of Melinda Walter. There is an abundance of characters in this book which at times was a bit confusing in keeping everyone straight and Charlee's sleuthing became somewhat tedious reading, but over-all this was a fun read with a surprise ending. I plan to read the next books in this series, Mystery Writer's Mystery, by Becky Clark - Foul Play on Words and Metaphor for Murder.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    A new author for me and the beginning of a new series. The Plot is unusual and a good one. I did not feel this a cozy, it is more of a novel with a mystery and a romance. It is written from a first-person view. The written did not flow easily and I found it hard to follow. The characters are one dimensional, the best one is the MC whom I dislike very much for her actions which did nothing to add to the story. I found the book HARD TO RATE. I finally settled on 3 stars but would have RATE IT 3.5 A new author for me and the beginning of a new series. The Plot is unusual and a good one. I did not feel this a cozy, it is more of a novel with a mystery and a romance. It is written from a first-person view. The written did not flow easily and I found it hard to follow. The characters are one dimensional, the best one is the MC whom I dislike very much for her actions which did nothing to add to the story. I found the book HARD TO RATE. I finally settled on 3 stars but would have RATE IT 3.5 STARS if I could have. Charlee Russo is a mid-list successful author. She has a problem with her royalties that are controlled by her agent. Her agent is murder in a nasty way. The method of murder was the exact way her latest book. Charles needs to clear her name and her friends. The police feel that murder is one of her beta readers. I recommend this book. Disclosure: Many thanks to Midnight Ink for a review copy. The opinions expressed are my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Theune

    Note: I would like to thank NetGalley for allowing me an ARC of Becky Clark’s “Fiction Can Be Murder” in exchange for a fair and honest review. “Fiction Can Be Murder” is a cozy mystery that makes for perfect rainy day reading. The story follows Charlee, an author whose manuscript is used as the inspiration for the murder of Melinda, Charlee’s book agent. After police determine the cause of death, they quickly suspect Charlee of committing the murder. Because only a select people have read Charle Note: I would like to thank NetGalley for allowing me an ARC of Becky Clark’s “Fiction Can Be Murder” in exchange for a fair and honest review. “Fiction Can Be Murder” is a cozy mystery that makes for perfect rainy day reading. The story follows Charlee, an author whose manuscript is used as the inspiration for the murder of Melinda, Charlee’s book agent. After police determine the cause of death, they quickly suspect Charlee of committing the murder. Because only a select people have read Charlee’s manuscript, she determines that the killer must be someone she knows. She sets out to do her own investigation, and she quickly grows concerned that the killer may be even closer than she realized. I enjoyed my time with this novel because it was light and easy to read, but also because the author managed to keep me guessing about the identity of the killer. I liked that Charlee was able to use the skills she developed from writing crime and mystery novels in order to cultivate a dependable investigation into her suspects. Her character was fun—occasionally funny—and smart. She didn’t make rookie mistakes, and she was thorough in her research. I thought that the choice for the killer was unexpected but believable. The way that the killer used [his/her] brain in order to deflect suspicion while also shining the spotlight on other suspects was impressive. Though I did have a problem with the outlandish reasoning/backstory behind the killer, I did like the way that the reveal unfolded. For the most part, I thought everything in the novel made sense in how it related to the overall plot. I did wonder about why the author chose to include a couple of points, though. I thought it was strange to give Charlee a tremor, because it didn’t seem to truly serve any purpose for the story. The reason for the tremor’s existence is vague, and I think the story could have done without. The only explanation I could think of for its part in the story was that Clark wanted Charlee’s character to have a strange hook or memorable trait, or perhaps to make her character more sympathetic. A second part of the book that I didn’t like was the overuse of the Kia reference. Charlee always referred to her car as “the Kia,” which felt unnatural to me. It felt like Kia was almost sponsoring the book—or at least paying the author for using its name. While I know that books have arrangements with brands these days, this felt too forced. Ultimately, I think Becky Clark delivered an entertaining novel that fans of the “cozy mystery” genre will read with relish. The characters are stimulating, the plot is unique, and the conclusion is satisfying. I would be happy to read more from Clark in the future.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Morin

    Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark is the first in a new series. Charlee Russo is a mystery writer and part of the Monday Morning Critique Group. When someone gets a hold of her newest manuscript, the tables are turned and Charlee becomes the number one suspect in a murder investigation. Why is Charlee a suspect? It's her agent that gets killed and Charlee has means and motive. She is questioning her royalty payments and that puts a huge target on her back. Charlee knows she's innocent, but it has Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark is the first in a new series. Charlee Russo is a mystery writer and part of the Monday Morning Critique Group. When someone gets a hold of her newest manuscript, the tables are turned and Charlee becomes the number one suspect in a murder investigation. Why is Charlee a suspect? It's her agent that gets killed and Charlee has means and motive. She is questioning her royalty payments and that puts a huge target on her back. Charlee knows she's innocent, but it has to be someone close enough to her to get their hands on her manuscript. Before long, Charlee is questioning everyone close to her, including her boyfriend Ozzie and the members of her critique group. It seems everyone has an alibi, or do they? Secrets are revealed as Charlee refuses to back down, especially when the cops close in on a suspect that Charlee believes is innocent. I really enjoyed this book. Charlee is a fun character and her friends and neighbors are just as colorful as I hoped. The story flowed smoothly and my attention was grabbed from the beginning. The author has created a great fictional world and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    Melinda has a reputation for taking pleasure in being mean to people. Even though Charlee Russo is an author this agent represents, she’s seen Melinda’s mean streak before. So it isn’t necessarily a surprise when Melinda winds up murdered. What is a surprise is the method – straight out of Charlee’s just submitted book. Clearly, someone in her life is trying to frame her for murder. But which of her friends could it be? Early on, I was worried that I was about to be flooded with suspects. While t Melinda has a reputation for taking pleasure in being mean to people. Even though Charlee Russo is an author this agent represents, she’s seen Melinda’s mean streak before. So it isn’t necessarily a surprise when Melinda winds up murdered. What is a surprise is the method – straight out of Charlee’s just submitted book. Clearly, someone in her life is trying to frame her for murder. But which of her friends could it be? Early on, I was worried that I was about to be flooded with suspects. While there are a lot, they were presented in a way that it was easy to remember them as the book went along. It also helped that potential series regulars are also suspects and that the characters are distinct. I did feel like the plot focused on one aspect of the mystery over some of the others, but there was still a good twist or two and the ending had me turning pages as quickly as possible. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    I really enjoyed this book. It did start out a little slow, but the main character, Charlee, grew on me and I wanted to know who did it. I also really liked the storyline (with someone using a mystery writer's plot to frame her). I did not figure out who did it and was a little surprised at the ending. I hope the next book is out soon and is as good as this one. I really enjoyed this book. It did start out a little slow, but the main character, Charlee, grew on me and I wanted to know who did it. I also really liked the storyline (with someone using a mystery writer's plot to frame her). I did not figure out who did it and was a little surprised at the ending. I hope the next book is out soon and is as good as this one.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Libby Klein

    Fun, Funny and quirky. Charlee has an overactive imagination which is perfect for a writer of murder mystery novels. For a sleuth trying to get to the bottom of a real life murder investigation, she hilariously gets in her own way. I so enjoyed this first book in the Mystery Writer series and can't wait till the next one. Fun, Funny and quirky. Charlee has an overactive imagination which is perfect for a writer of murder mystery novels. For a sleuth trying to get to the bottom of a real life murder investigation, she hilariously gets in her own way. I so enjoyed this first book in the Mystery Writer series and can't wait till the next one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tari

    When I saw this at my library, I remembered that I had wanted to read it when it came out earlier this year, and I'm always happy to let my library know I appreciate them having the latest cozy mysteries available. I have another book started but this is due back soon so I just binged on it. This is a new-to-me author and I am now a big fan of her writing style. This book was so funny in so many ways, not so much slapstick, in-your-face comedy, but situations and descriptions sometimes really mad When I saw this at my library, I remembered that I had wanted to read it when it came out earlier this year, and I'm always happy to let my library know I appreciate them having the latest cozy mysteries available. I have another book started but this is due back soon so I just binged on it. This is a new-to-me author and I am now a big fan of her writing style. This book was so funny in so many ways, not so much slapstick, in-your-face comedy, but situations and descriptions sometimes really made me giggle. Charlee Russo's literary agent was killed using the method described in Charlee's latest manuscript. This definitely limited the field of possible suspects, but it was still a big job investigating everyone involved, especially since most of the people Charlee felt compelled to talk to were her good friends and book critique group members. As she got closer to the killer, or was thinking she had, Charlee was getting creeped by a black SUV, footprints showing up in the snow and little things like that. Can she find the real killer and not become another victim herself? I really enjoyed this mystery since it was well-constructed, had a great plot and quite a few good red herrings. I never even came close to guessing the killer. There is only one little question that seemed to go unanswered, and that was, what was actually happening to Charlee's royalties. Were her book sales really less or was her agent skimming her? Maybe that's an on-going mystery the author is saving for the next book. I hope there will be another book. I really like this quirky group of characters, from the book critique people to Charlee's neighbors and would enjoy reading more about them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ☼♎ Carmen the Bootyshaker Temptress ☼♎

    Rating 3.5 stars Being accused of murder isn't fun but also when people who are supposed to be your close friends look at you with accusing eyes. This wasn't a great or bad story.It was fun reading how Charlee tries to figure out who did it instead of her writing a book about it. LOL I thought it was funny when she even questioned the lead officer of not being able to do his job correctly because she believes he's not into it due to his do in retirement or just doesn't care. Now if that were me I Rating 3.5 stars Being accused of murder isn't fun but also when people who are supposed to be your close friends look at you with accusing eyes. This wasn't a great or bad story.It was fun reading how Charlee tries to figure out who did it instead of her writing a book about it. LOL I thought it was funny when she even questioned the lead officer of not being able to do his job correctly because she believes he's not into it due to his do in retirement or just doesn't care. Now if that were me I would question it as well but it might not help my situation. LOL It was a good fun.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This book had an interesting theory and manner of killing but something just missed in the story. Charlee writes mystery novels and is at her writers meeting when she finds out that her agent has been killed in the same unusual manner That Charlee had used in her latest novel. Charlee is afraid she is being targeted also and goes looking among her writer’s group and friends to find out who did it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rima Aiello

    This book was so much fun I couldn't put it down! This was such a witty well written story that I found myself wanting to live within the pages. The main character seemed to be so scatter brained and clumsy, but actually was spot on in almost every way. I love the tie in with her past at the end, definitely a surprise and a addition that just added more depth to the story. If you are looking for a good solid mystery, look no further. I cannot wait to delve into more from this author. This book was so much fun I couldn't put it down! This was such a witty well written story that I found myself wanting to live within the pages. The main character seemed to be so scatter brained and clumsy, but actually was spot on in almost every way. I love the tie in with her past at the end, definitely a surprise and a addition that just added more depth to the story. If you are looking for a good solid mystery, look no further. I cannot wait to delve into more from this author.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nina Silva

    This is a cute first offering in a new mystery series. I got into a chat with Virginia over at Rosepoint Publishing, when she introduced me to Fiction Can Be Murder in her review, about whether or not it is a cozy mystery. I agree with my blog buddy in that it’s not quite a cozy. I’d say it’s not quirky enough. Virginia says, it doesn’t have any recipes! Lol. Either way, it’s still a fairly well-plotted mystery that you can enjoy pretty quickly. Fiction Can Be Murder introduces us to mystery writ This is a cute first offering in a new mystery series. I got into a chat with Virginia over at Rosepoint Publishing, when she introduced me to Fiction Can Be Murder in her review, about whether or not it is a cozy mystery. I agree with my blog buddy in that it’s not quite a cozy. I’d say it’s not quirky enough. Virginia says, it doesn’t have any recipes! Lol. Either way, it’s still a fairly well-plotted mystery that you can enjoy pretty quickly. Fiction Can Be Murder introduces us to mystery writer Charlee Russo, who has been accused of murdering her agent, in the same manner as one of the victims in her latest book. That premise allows us to take a close look at the people closest to Charlee, who had access to her manuscript. Through her interactions with these folks here character is revealed. She’s fun, she’s spunky, people’s opinions can get her down but above all, she loves her family and friends. For most of the novel, she moves smart and tries to figure out who is truly responsible for the crime she’s falsely accused of. However, she has her moments of silliness e.g. making up an alibi for a friend and having a completely over the top reaction to a newspaperaccidentally jammed against her back. The secondary characters need some more fleshing out. We do get to spend some time with her friends Suzanne and AmyJo but they need more development, which may come in future stories. On pacing: The novel opens with the victim’s last moments and then flows seamlessly to Charlee as she makes her way to her critique group meeting. For the most part the action moves at a good clip but still gives the reader a chance to enjoy and think about the plot twists. There were a couple car scenes that dragged a bit too much for my liking, but other than that, the pace was on point. The mystery itself is interesting. There are clues laid out. There are red herrings. There is some backstory given that makes you wonder how it plays into the resolution. There are viable suspects and there are those who are easy to dismiss. Ultimately, I felt the final resolution was a bit rushed and that more time should have been spent laying the backdrop for that revelation. Overall, this story starts off strong but does lose some steam towards the ending. Charlee’s actions by the end have me questioning her sanity! Thankfully even she recognises that and admits that she was not completely at peace with her thought process or behaviour. This bodes well for future stories. Disclaimer: Thanks to the folks at NetGalley and Midnight Ink for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elke

    This was a wonderfully entertaining mystery novel which provided some great company while battling a nasty cold, where I was not able to digest anything other than light fare in more than one sense. It was so much fun to follow Charlee while she was trying to solve the murder case, more than once putting her foot in her mouth on the way. Though she sometimes acted silly, often hasty and most of the time so naive it almost hurt, it never failed to kept me glued to the pages. However, the solution This was a wonderfully entertaining mystery novel which provided some great company while battling a nasty cold, where I was not able to digest anything other than light fare in more than one sense. It was so much fun to follow Charlee while she was trying to solve the murder case, more than once putting her foot in her mouth on the way. Though she sometimes acted silly, often hasty and most of the time so naive it almost hurt, it never failed to kept me glued to the pages. However, the solution to the mystery was disappointing - unpredictable and rushed, like she ran out of options and had to invent something at the last minute just for the sake of it. Good thing is, the ending is only a smaller part of the whole, so most of the time I had a great time reading this and I also will give this series another try with the sequel. (Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lesa

    Becky Clark, the author of "funny mysteries with a dash of murder", launches a new series with Fiction Can Be Murder. But, humor isn't universal, and I found the ending absurd and the motivation improbable. However, I know others will enjoy Charlee Russo's search for a killer. When literary agent Melinda Walter dies in a one-car accident, even Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo's boyfriend questions her. Charlee had been questioning her agent about her royalty checks. Now, Melinda is dead, killed with t Becky Clark, the author of "funny mysteries with a dash of murder", launches a new series with Fiction Can Be Murder. But, humor isn't universal, and I found the ending absurd and the motivation improbable. However, I know others will enjoy Charlee Russo's search for a killer. When literary agent Melinda Walter dies in a one-car accident, even Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo's boyfriend questions her. Charlee had been questioning her agent about her royalty checks. Now, Melinda is dead, killed with the methodology Charlee used in her latest manuscript. While the police question Charlee, the author panics. Is she also a potential murder victim? Who had access to her manuscript? By Charlee's reckoning, at least fifteen people could have read "Mercury Rising". That includes every member of her writing critique group. Charlee knows where she was when Melinda Walter was killed, but it takes time to check alibis for all those other people. One by one, she eliminates them as suspects by taking chances, and even following people. But, something must be wrong with her answers. Charlee eventually finds she has no one left on the list. And, there's still a killer out there. As I said, the humor in this particular mystery wasn't for me. While the author tried to inject humor in the form of Charlee's hand tremor as she constantly spilled coffee on herself, I found that sad. The members of the writing group were indistinguishable at times. In fact, by the time the killer was revealed, a person with an outlandish motivation, I couldn't even remember who the killer was. Perhaps I've just been reading too many mysteries lately that are similar. The premise that a mystery author's story was used as a murder method just seemed too familiar to me, although I couldn't place it. I might have been thinking of Layton Green's Written in Blood in which crime scenes resembled famous crime scenes in literature. Close enough, but I don't know, and that's not a cozy, humorous mystery. Saying all that, Fiction Can Be Murder launches a new humorous mystery series. We'll see where it goes.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Fiction Can Be Murder is the first book in Mystery Writer's series and it is a fabulous read. Charlee is a mystery writer, who wrote a book in which victim gets killed by mercury poisoning. The book is set for success but the only problem is that her notorious literary agent is murdered it exactly the same way as it was s described in the unpublished manuscript. Members of her writing group and few of her friends are the only ones who had access to it. Needles to say Charlee is in a very bad situ Fiction Can Be Murder is the first book in Mystery Writer's series and it is a fabulous read. Charlee is a mystery writer, who wrote a book in which victim gets killed by mercury poisoning. The book is set for success but the only problem is that her notorious literary agent is murdered it exactly the same way as it was s described in the unpublished manuscript. Members of her writing group and few of her friends are the only ones who had access to it. Needles to say Charlee is in a very bad situation as detectives Ming like the dynasty and Campbell like the soup, aren't trying too hard to find the culprit but are more than happy to prove that Charlee did it. Wickedly funny, with many laugh out loud moments, clever dialogue and interesting plot it is a book I have thoroughly enjoyed. I particularly liked that writers are possible suspects and the comic way Charlee goes about investigating the murder. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Archer

    There were so many things I loved about Fiction Can Be Murder. Charlee’s voice, her afterthoughts, her comparisons, her nerve, her passion for grilled cheese sandwiches, her leap-before-she looks, her rationalizations, all so funny! And the crime? Genius! (Who knew?) I truly enjoyed the procedural solving of the mystery. So old school, with clever, almost hidden nuance, and nods to great literary detectives/devices of yore. I absolutely enjoyed the insider glimpse at the (not always) glamorous p There were so many things I loved about Fiction Can Be Murder. Charlee’s voice, her afterthoughts, her comparisons, her nerve, her passion for grilled cheese sandwiches, her leap-before-she looks, her rationalizations, all so funny! And the crime? Genius! (Who knew?) I truly enjoyed the procedural solving of the mystery. So old school, with clever, almost hidden nuance, and nods to great literary detectives/devices of yore. I absolutely enjoyed the insider glimpse at the (not always) glamorous publishing industry, and more, so much more. Above all, I can’t wait to see what Becky Clark comes up with next. Shoutout to the editor: I’d have never known sandpicture was a compound word. This is one of the best first mysteries I’ve read in forever. Truly a page turner. Bravo.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diane ~Firefly~

    When you agent is killed in the same manner as your manuscript, things get dicey What I enjoyed: * Her upstairs neighbors and their dog were adorable and I really liked the guys who owned the coffeeshop * Suzanne was interesting, and probably would had made a better lead character * When Charlee tried to write other genres besides mystery and they all ended in death What could have been better: * Charlee. She is a fairly successful mystery writer who has no tact and is horrible about planning. She bas When you agent is killed in the same manner as your manuscript, things get dicey What I enjoyed: * Her upstairs neighbors and their dog were adorable and I really liked the guys who owned the coffeeshop * Suzanne was interesting, and probably would had made a better lead character * When Charlee tried to write other genres besides mystery and they all ended in death What could have been better: * Charlee. She is a fairly successful mystery writer who has no tact and is horrible about planning. She basically would go up to Her Friends and ask them point blank for an alibi. She was trusting no one, including her long term boyfriend. I'm amazed anyone was talking to her after the fact. * The whole thing with the royalty payments was never resolved * It was weird that just about everyone in her writer's group was doing something secret the evening they needed an alibi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Charlee Russo is a mid-list mystery author, off to her writing group where she learns that her unpleasant but effective agent has been murdered. The very unusual method used was featured in Charlee's soon-to-be-published book--but up till now, only a very few people have had access to the book, making Charlee a person of interest, especially since she may have a motive. She reasons that the only way out of her situation is to investigate her friends, especially those in the writing group. As she Charlee Russo is a mid-list mystery author, off to her writing group where she learns that her unpleasant but effective agent has been murdered. The very unusual method used was featured in Charlee's soon-to-be-published book--but up till now, only a very few people have had access to the book, making Charlee a person of interest, especially since she may have a motive. She reasons that the only way out of her situation is to investigate her friends, especially those in the writing group. As she blunders about, she realizes that not only is she being framed, but apparently she's also the next target for the murderer. I gave this four stars because I did like it, but the killer's motivation is not really explained clearly enough, especially as SPOILER the motive stems from an earlier incident in Charlee's life that is never adequately explained.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    #FictionCanBeMurder #Netgalley Thank you to Netgalley for the E-ARC copy of this novel. What a refreshing mystery! The main character, Charlee, is a writer who becomes accused of her agents murder. The twist is that it follows the plot from her own book. Now Charlee is trying to prove her innocence. I love the main character, but the supporting cast in this novel is wonderful too! It is a fun, smart read that you won't put down. I defiantly be back for a sequel. #FictionCanBeMurder #Netgalley Thank you to Netgalley for the E-ARC copy of this novel. What a refreshing mystery! The main character, Charlee, is a writer who becomes accused of her agents murder. The twist is that it follows the plot from her own book. Now Charlee is trying to prove her innocence. I love the main character, but the supporting cast in this novel is wonderful too! It is a fun, smart read that you won't put down. I defiantly be back for a sequel.

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