by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow
We are starting off the new year with another catch up group of mysteries published over the last few months-A Deadly Edition: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery by Victoria Gilbert, A Death Long Overdue: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates, and Death by French Roast: A Bookstore Café Mystery by Alex Erickson. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.
A Deadly Edition: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery by Victoria Gilbert
Review by Cynthia Chow
At the party celebrating her upcoming wedding to Richard Muir, librarian Amy Webber thought that meeting her in-laws would be the only unpleasant element of the celebration. Jim Muir indeed proves to be A LOT, not shy about giving his opinion about the state of declining arts to party host Kurt Kendrick. It’s guest Oscar Selvaggio, though, who truly throws a wrench in what should be a joyous celebration. Not only does Mr. Selvaggio announce his intent to compete with Kurt over the purchase of a rare edition by Chaucer with woodcut illustrations, his premature exit threatens the happiness of so many at the party. For it is on their own way home to the estate of Richard’s grand-uncle that he and Amy find Oscar Selvaggio dead outside of Kurt’s garden shed.
While a possible murder investigation should be enough to disrupt the otherwise happy preparations, it’s not just the killer who is threatening the relationships of Blue Ridge residents. Having long suspected Kurt of shady art dealings, Hugh Chen begins looking further into how this may have played a factor in the recent death. The fact that Hugh is currently dating Amy’s aunt, a woman very protective over Kurt as someone who helped and protected her late husband’s secrets, means that their relationship is on the rocks. Further family Webber drama arrives with a visit from Amy’s brother Scott, whose secretive U.S. intelligence work has his unexpected presence and subsequent disappearance linked to current local drama. It seems that all of the intrepid scheming of mysterious visitors, secretive agents, and curious assistants who arrived in town can only be matched by Amy’s maid-of-honor Sunny Fields’ efforts at matchmaking.
This fifth in the series is a celebration of Amy, Richard, and the Blue Ridge Library family. Readers who adore the details involved in wedding celebrations will revel in this novel, as it is filled with scenes of dress fittings, cake tastings, and reception planning. Amy’s willingness to delve into Richard’s world of dance not only indicates her love for her talented partner, but also is a sign of how they will blend together their future lives. For those who have met and been immersed in the adventures of these characters through these five books, seeing them achieve such bliss and deserving happiness is a delight. This truly is a novel of love, romance, and couples finding their perfect match, making it the ultimate rewarding and satisfying read.
A Death Long Overdue: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
Review by Cynthia Chow
Bodie Island Lighthouse Library on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is the perfect setting for a reunion of librarians, especially when one of them is the Library Director. Rather than celebrating the day of their graduation, though, Bertie James’s undergraduate class is marking the day the women met on their first day of classes. Lighthouse Library Assistant Director Lucy Richardson is enthusiastically hosting the event for her boss, even creating displays of artifacts she and her staff have gathered from North Carolina libraries. Library card catalogs, photographs, and withdrawn library books from the 90s are ancient relicts to the current librarians, but the library philosophies of encouraging reading and learning haven’t changed. What has changed are the women who went through the classes with Bertie, some who went on to pursue library careers and others who left the field completely. What they all share is a dislike of Helena Sanchez, the previous library director who hasn’t lost her distain for the women or the new library operations. So when Lucy discovers Helena’s body in the marshes next to the Lighthouse, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that her death was not an accident.
Library volunteer, sporadic nemesis, and self-involved irritant Louise Jane McKaughnan tries to promote the death as part of her factually-questionable haunted history tour, but Lucy believes that Helena’s unwanted presence was removed by more corporeal forces. The former library director’s reaction to a withdrawal record card in an old copy of The Celestine Prophecy has Lucy believing that it is a clue to Helena’s death, especially since the paper envelope has since disappeared along with a suspicious letter opener. Trusting in Lucy’s proven skills as an organized librarian and amateur detective, Detective Sam Watson asks her to observe and investigate the past library students who may have had a hand in the rigid director’s death.
Readers, library lovers, and of course, librarians will revel in this seventh of the series that makes the most of its unique Lighthouse Library setting. Lucy never shies away from promoting just how relevant libraries remain in this age of misinformation and widening gap between those with and without access to technology. Whether catalogs are digitalized or in a card catalog cabinet, library books continue to be in demand by readers and library patrons. It’s impossible for long-time library users not to geek out a little over the depiction of actual card catalogs and written checkout slips (not to mention some righteous 80’s fashion). Lucy’s romantic life is as promising as her professional one, with Nags Head Mayor Connor McNeill being the epitome of the devoted and charming boyfriend. The book club’s selection of Winkie Collins’ The Moonstone, often considered to be the novel establishing the rules of traditional English detective mysteries, helps to lead readers along to a still very surprising conclusion. Library lovers, ghost story fans, and anyone who has dreaded a high school or college reunion will enjoy this witty mystery and its charming characters.
Death by French Roast: A Bookstore Café Mystery by Alex Erickson
Review by Sandra Murphy
Krissy hated the way her neighbor Eleanor spied on her and never failed to report any misdoings, real or imagined. Following Eleanor’s funeral (natural causes), Krissy learns Eleanor’s brother, Wade, had been murdered over thirty years ago. Eleanor never gave up trying to find out who killed him. Wade would have been in his sixties by now so the case is indeed a cold one.
Back then, Wade, in his thirties, was dating a barely legal aged woman, Rita. It’s a shock to Krissy who knows Rita from book club. Krissy decides she can do some investigating into the case as a way to honor Eleanor’s memory. The problem is, when a murderer has gone free for over thirty years, they don’t plan on getting caught now.
Krissy is relentless in her pursuit of the truth about Wade’s death, questioning the Coffee Drinkers, a group who met daily at a local restaurant, and researching newspaper articles of the time. Will she find the killer before the killer finds her?
This is book eight in the Bookstore Café series. Krissy’s wannabe relationship with police officer Paul Dalton is still up in the air. It seems each time they try to get together, a murder case interferes. There is hope for the future, though, if Krissy learns not to put herself into dangerous situations. She tends to forge ahead without thinking through the consequences, while insisting she has to know the truth, never considering the truth could get her killed. Erickson also writes the Furever Pets mysteries.
To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “new year” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 9, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.