Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A Murder For The Books

Author: Victoria Gilbert
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Type: e-book
Series: #1 in the Blue Ridge Library series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
First Published: December 12, 2017
First Line: "Anyone who claims there are no stupid questions has never worked in a public library."

Book Description from GoodReadsFleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.
 

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Disclaimer: This ARC was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: This is the first book in a new Cozy Mystery series and as a Library Assistant myself I enjoyed that the main character is a librarian. I appreciated that Gilbert realistically showed what life can be like for library staff -- quirky patrons, the library as a community space where library staff aren't pinched-faced shushers but instead love books and want to share their knowledge of researching and the library's numerous services with the public etc. Libraries are cool, y'all!!

There is a good mystery here and it was more complex than I was expecting. Actually, there's not one but three mysteries, in two time frames, that are being solved! This raised this book up to a Cozy Mystery 2.0 designation - it has all the makings of a typical Cozy but with the additional mysteries and the tension at the end it gives readers a little something more.

The writing was good (if overly descriptive at times) and I think this was a solid start to a new series. There are a lot of characters to keep track of which became a little messy and convoluted figuring out how people were related to each other. But within this group, Gilbert gives her readers a gaggle of shady characters, each of whom could plausibly be the culprit, to keep her readers guessing. There is a romance (but of course!) but I wasn't quite as smitten with it as the characters were with each other. It had an Insta-Love vibe and smelled strongly of fromage. I think the story could have easily done without it.

While the book felt a little sluggish in the beginning the energy ramps up considerably in the end for a solid conclusion. Overall, this was a good start to a new series with a solid community of characters, a nice small town feel and a main character who can get into enough scrapes to keep things interesting. Readers are also left with some questions regarding certain secondary characters which could prove to be good fodder for future story lines.

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