The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns, a review and author interview

Hi, faithful readers! Susan Karsten here with a nice book to tell you about. THE PLOT IS MURDER is a novel I sought out on my own — not through the blogging program of any publisher, etc.


A delightful and different cozy mystery in which author Burns takes the reader along on a fascinating adventure. The adventure involves much more than a murder solve, in that the main character is a writer (think Downton Abbey!) who opens a book store and we get to learn all about what is entailed in that!

Another rare and fun part of this cozy is that Burns includes a novel (mystery, of course) within a novel! Scattered at appropriate points in the book, you will read protagonists Samantha Washington’s fictional tale, one set in England between the two World Wars.

Here’s a teaser from the back cover: The small town of North Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to have a new mystery bookstore. But before the first customer can browse its shelves, the store’s owner is suspected of her own murder plot . . . 
Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and fills the shelves with the latest mysteries, quick-witted Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling’s charms. When one of Daphne’s suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor.

But as Samantha indulges her imagination, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in her backyard, and the police suspect her—after all, the owner of a mystery bookstore might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an enthusiastic ensemble of colorful retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind for her?

 author V.M. Burns

Here is my interview of V.M. Burns:

So many of your book’s details, such as setting, careers, life situation, people, were intriguingly different. The following questions are based on things in the book that made me curious.

Was the setting based on St. Joseph, MI, and Benton Harbor, MI?

  • Yes, the setting for the book is based on St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan. I was born in nearby South Bend, Indiana and lived in both St. Joe and Benton Harbor for several years.

Do you own a bookstore?

  • I don’t own a mystery bookstore, but similar to my protagonist, Samantha Washington, owning a mystery bookstore is my dream.

Do you have a “Nana Jo” in your life?

  • I don’t have a Nana Jo, but one of my first jobs after graduating from college, was working for an area agency on aging. While working there, I meant a lot of fun loving, vibrant seniors. I think Nana Jo and ‘the girls’ are a conglomeration of many of those women.

I loved the details of Samantha’s teaching attributes. Were you a teacher for many years?

  • Unlike my main character, I did not teach in the public school system. However, for many years, I worked as a corporate trainer. I have a passion for training and I have a number of family members who were teachers.

Based on the novel within a novel, I am guessing you might be a fan of Downton Abbey? Are there other works set between the wars that have influenced you?

  • Yes, I am a Downton Abbey fan. I enjoy British historic mysteries and all things Agatha Christie. I love Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Foyle’s War. I also love Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe and Miss Fisher Mysteries.

How many mysteries have you written?

  • The process to get a book in print is long. So, while I currently have two books published, I have actually written eight. I have three series. The Mystery Bookshop Mystery series has two books released. The third book in this series will release in late November. In July I will release the first book in a new RJ Franklin Mystery series which will be set in St. Joseph, Indiana (based on my hometown of South Bend). In August, the first book in my Dog Club Mystery ebook series will release. This series will start in Indiana, but just like me, it will move to Tennessee.

Who are your favorite mystery, and cozy mystery writers?

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie, Victoria Thompson, Emily Brightwell, Rex Stout, Jill Churchill, and Dorothy Gilman. I love historic cozies.

I loved your quirky characters. They seemed so real. Which are your favorites?

  • I think Nana Jo and the girls (Dorothy, Irma and Ruby Mae) are my favorites. I love that they are confident and outgoing. These women have lived and enjoy life. Like Sam, I’m much more conservative and insecure. Nana Jo and the Girls remind me not to take life so seriously and to take time to laugh and to have fun.

Thank you, V.M. Burns, for this interview. I want my readers to know that you’re an Agatha nominated author of THE MYSTERY BOOKSHOP MYSTERY SERIES, The RJ  FRANKLIN MYSTERY SERIES, and The DOG CLUB MYSTERY SERIES. 

To find out more about author V. M. Burns, visit her at her Website:

or on Facebook:

or on Twitter: @vmburns

{And if you want to know more about me, Susan Karsten, and my historical romances, you can check out: Susan Karsten – author on facebook 🙂 }

4 thoughts on “The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns, a review and author interview

  1. This is so cool! That you found the book and then found the author to interview! (even if it is a “virtual” interview?)
    The premise of the book sounds great! Thanks for the introduction to Ms. Burns.

  2. This WAS a fun and interesting cozy mystery. I will let you in on a secret: this book caught my eye in a private facebook group, so I reached out to Valerie, and there you have it!

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