At a recent crime fiction convention, a number of shoppers—including myself—noticed an unusual book on the tables in the bookroom shopping area. While most of the titles for sale naturally looked and sounded like mysteries and thrillers, this novel stood out for his bright blue color and cartoonish cover design—looking more like a rom-com movie poster than something one would find from a vendor at a convention dedicated to crime fiction. After reading the synopsis, quite a few people—again, including myself—purchased a copy. Since all the copies were gone by the end of the weekend, several more must have done the same after the author’s panel. The net result is that Robin Yeatman and her novel, Bookworm, generated a small amount of buzz amongst a captured audience who will surely continue to talk about this unique novel in their own social circles.

Bookworm is more romantic comedy than crime, but the delightful thread of the sinister which permeates the entire novel makes for a very successful cross-genre work—one that many loyal crime readers will find to be a refreshing palate cleanser between the countless dark tales of murder. In particular, fans of the cozy mystery will find much comfort in the pages of Robin Yeatman’s debut novel. Another group that will count Bookworm as a success are those readers for whom that title term is a loving moniker meant to be celebrated rather than whispered in dark hallways. Let’s look a bit closer at each of these components.

Romantic comedies are successful because they follow a formula; each is unique in their details, but there is an overarching pattern to most of them that brings comfort to their fans. Robin Yeatman clearly knows this and while she brings her own spin, many of those iconic elements are present in Bookworm. Victoria is in a stable, but boring marriage to Eric. Meanwhile, Eric is a jerk—demeaning and degrading Victoria at every opportunity. He’s such a momma’s boy that the weekly family meals (with both sets of parents) have become a gang-up on Victoria free-for-all. Thankfully, Victoria has her regular get-togethers with her best friend Holly, but really, what keeps Victoria going is her books. Victoria reads a lot. Every afternoon she heads to the local Montreal coffee shop, grabs her usual drink of choice, and settles in for several hours of escapist reading. It’s in the coffee shop—Café au Lait—that Victoria first spots Luke, the man of her dreams. And guess what? He’s reading the same book as she is. 

Now, reading is a distinct pleasure for Victoria. She really gets into every book she consumes and finds herself lost in those other worlds. This love of storytelling even spills over into real life for Victoria as she finds that when she encounters strangers, she makes up elaborate backstories for them and plays out what happens in her mind. Her imaginary world of Luke begins to be all-consuming—with Victoria even visiting him in her dreams—but when their interaction levels up, Victoria finds herself at a new crossroads (and for reasons you will only find out by reading, in a financial pickle.) Meanwhile, the novels that Victoria has read begin offering her a solution. Taking inspiration from the books, Victoria begins to imagine all the ways that her husband, Eric, could die, thereby leaving her alone to ride off in the sunset with her fantasy man, Luke.

Bibliophiles coming to Bookworm will know all the novel plots Victoria talks about and how those stories inspire her various fantasies of “dead Eric.” But there are countless other illusions that will thrill the English Major in all of us. Those who keep up to date on the literary landscape will most definitely recognize the book Victoria and Eric are reading during their first few encounters (the description of that now iconic cover alone makes it impossible for those familiar with it to not instantly recognize it.) Like those characters, each reader is sure to have strong opinions on that work, which Yeatman wisely doesn’t name. Other mentions are likely to send bookworms out to find a novel they might have missed or to re-visit a favorite that has been called to mind.

Needless to say, Robin Yeatman brings all of this to a satisfying conclusion that stays true to the tropes while also bringing something new to the table. Bookworm is a fun read, perfect for the coffee shop, beach, gym, or just lounging around at home. It’s impossible to know where Robin Yeatman will go next, but whatever it is it’s likely to be entertaining and unexpected.

BUY LINKS: Bookworm by Robin Yeatman