Title: A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
Genre: Currently #2672 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: To be released December 12, 2017
Source: Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley
Title and Cover: A Murder for the Books – Cozy Mystery cover hints at library setting
Seems like this is the third book I’ve read recently with a library setting. I had no idea that libraries could be such a hotbed of intrigue!
This particular plot centers around Amy Webber who has moved in with her aunt in rural, historic Taylorsford, Virginia where she becomes the library director. She is escaping a disastrous affair. She’s found a good friend at the library in Sunny, and is introduced to the new man in town, choreographer Richard Muir, who inherited the farmhouse next door. He’s on a quest to uncover some old history involving his great-uncle, Paul Dassin, from whom he inherited the old house. He engages Amy to help with research and she soon realizes some of the history may include her family history as well. Together, they shortly discover a murder victim in the archive section of the library.
The opening chapter must introduce Amy and explain the belated relationship to her Aunt Lydia, the house, the town, and their history as this is the first installment in the Blue Ridge Library mystery series. Amy wasn’t just in a disastrous love affair; she seems to have escalated a scene with him in public, which saw the end of her career at the university library. Her aunt gives her a place to be and she secures the position with the local low-budget library simmering in town council squabbles.
As with most old, small towns, everyone knows everyone and their secrets. And there are plenty of secrets, tying many of the townsfolk knowledge back to an original murder in 1925. Predictably, the townspeople conspire against the “newcomer,” a wife whose husband dies mysteriously. She is tried and acquitted, but disappears shortly thereafter. There is lots of speculation.
Amy is fairly fleshed into a female protagonist with somewhat less than Barbie attributes, albeit an appropriate age for Richard. Sunny is the more attractive one, while Aunt Lydia in her sixties sounds more like a septuagenarian. Most of the peripheral characters are background, with the exception of a few that come to the fore during misdirection.
The plot moves at cozy speed and then bogs down in a few places while the romance is worked on pushing the tension just a little too fast. Amy insists she is interested in taking it slow while admiring his pecs and imagining life with Richie, while Richard keeps putting out horny signals of his own. (I get it already–they are both on rebound.) Aunt Lydia plays matchmaker ad nauseum.
The book appears well plotted, dialogue natural, and credibly written, but it just doesn’t connect for me. There are more red herrings, creating additional sub-plots and complicates what initially seems a simple picture. You’re given several antagonist suspects while skipping lightly over the one who becomes the surprise culprit (and no, you won’t guess who). So few people to really like here. I wasn’t able to identify with any of the major characters and the small town closed-in mentality sounded a bit too close for comfort for anyone familiar with the situation.
The story begins to increase pace as it heats up to the climax, and though not entirely predictable, has a satisfying ending. There were some edit misses, but on the whole an entertaining read. If not character, then plot driven and there’s enough here to invest in knowing the outcome.
I received this download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Overall, a good start for a new series and certainly left no cliff-hangers. Recommended to those who enjoy cozy mysteries, stories involving libraries, and a bit of folklore with the romance pablum.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three-point Five of Five Stars
The Author: (from Amazon) “Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She holds a B.A. in Theatre, an M.A. in Library Science, a second M.A. in Liberal Studies, and is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.” ©2017 Virginia Williams