Review: Betrayal by the Book by Michael D. Beil

The Swallowtail Legacy 2: Betrayal by the Book by Michael D. Beil

Betrayal by the Book (The Swallowtail Legacy #2)
Michael D. Beil
Published April 18, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Betrayal by the Book

A writer’s conference brings twelve-year-old Lark’s favorite writer–and a suspicious death–to Swallowtail Island, in the second book in this middle grade mystery series by an Edgar Award-nominated author.

Swallowtail Island is hosting the Swallowtales Writer’s Conference. Lark’s ecstatic to be chosen as a “page” for her favorite author, Ann E. Keyhart.

But they say you should never meet your idols. When Keyhart arrives with her personal assistant in tow, she is nothing but a terror. And within a few hours, the assistant is dead! But the explanation isn’t sitting well. Not when lots of people had reasons to want to be rid of Keyhart, and especially not after it’s revealed the assistant recently completed a hot new novel and the file’s vanished from her computer.

Then Lark finds out the assistant had a bird–the match to the one she found hidden in her mom’s book–and she needs answers. It looks like Swallowtail Island still has secrets to reveal, and Lark’s going to uncover them.

A gripping new chapter in the Swallowtail Legacy series, Mike D. Beil spins another clever clue hunt that seamlessly slips in alongside the best classics of middle grade mystery.

Betrayal by the Book on Goodreads

My Review

I read the first book in this series, WRECK AT ATA’S REEF last year, and really enjoyed it. So, I was excited to see that this second book was coming out this year. Like the first, it’s set on a small island, and features some of Lark’s many family members.

I really liked that the story takes place during a writer’s conference at which Lark is a volunteer helper to her favorite author. Though the conference itself stays more in the background, it still managed to hit a lot of key moments from a conference: panels, hurt feelings over harsh feedback, encouraging words from a beloved author, and disorganized statements from someone clearly underprepared.

I had very strong suspicions about who was responsible for the assistant’s death even before I read the first page of the story, and I was right. So, that made it a little difficult for me to enjoy Lark’s journey unraveling the clues.

I also expected the bird figurine to tie into the mystery somehow? It remained pretty separate, though. Because that thread began in the first book, I kind of wonder if it’s something that will be the center of a mystery in the next book in the series? I haven’t heard anything, so I don’t know.

All in all, I think I’d have enjoyed this one a bit more if I hadn’t figured out the mystery so quickly. I still enjoyed the island community and Lark’s role as a conference volunteer. I’m not sorry I read the book. The series still makes me think of the Northwoods Mysteries by Margi Preus.

Betrayal by the Book on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Lark wonders whether she’s attracted to a boy on the island.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Lark responds to a scream and sees the dead body of a woman who has apparently died of an allergic reaction. (No blood, just open blank eyes, clearly not breathing, cold to the touch.)

Drug Content
Ann Keyheart gets drunk in several scenes and slurs her words or behaves rudely.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of BETRAYAL BY THE BOOK in exchange for my honest review.

Middle Grade Mondays!

Greg at Always in the Middle does a Monday roundup of posts about middle grade books and news. Check out today’s Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays!

Tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

13 Responses to Review: Betrayal by the Book by Michael D. Beil

  1. Welcome to MMGM! I find there are never enough MG mysteries and having a bird involved clinches it for me! I’ll be looking for this one.

    • Kasey says:

      Thank you! Yes! Never enough MG mysteries, for sure. I hope you enjoy the book if you get a chance to check it out. 🙂

  2. Oh, I do love a good mystery. You make this one sound like a very good one. Thanks for telling me about it. I’m going to add it to my staggering TBR list.

  3. Brenda says:

    Welcome to MMGM, looking forward to reading your posts. I’m new to The Swallowtail Legacy series but do love a good mystery. Too bad that you were able to figure it out so quickly, but the writers’ conference makes for a fun setting.

    • Kasey says:

      Thanks, Brenda! I thought the first book (also a mystery) was really well done in case you were wanting to try this series. I’m looking forward to more MMGM posts in the coming weeks! 🙂

  4. Welcome to the MMGM family of bloggers! Not everyone blogs each week so you will always see new names every week. I was aware of this series but haven’t had a chance to give it a read. Mysteries are fun to figure out and too bad this one might be a bit too easy. Thanks for your review and I look forward to seeing you again on MMGM.

    • Kasey says:

      Thank you! I can’t believe it took me so long to check it out. I’m excited to be a part. 🙂

  5. I love the writer conference set up and this murder mystery sounds fun! I am a bit confused by the book description though, so well done for guessing it immediately (or maybe that should be condolences!). I can see why it marred your enjoyment of the book though. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Kasey says:

      Yeah, I think the description is a little confusing. It must be tricky to write one for a mystery and include all the set-up without too many clues. Thanks for checking out the review. 🙂

  6. So glad you joined the MMGM group. Sorry you figured out the mystery quickly. I like the setting of a writing conference too.

    • Kasey says:

      Thank you! I think you were the one who told me about it maybe last year… I am only sorry it took me so long to actually get organized enough to join in. 🙂

  7. Glad to see your blog and book reviews on Greg’s site. Love to read more MG blogs.
    A fellow blogger, Beth Schmelzer