by Cynthia Chow
It may be the Spring season in Briar Creek, Connecticut, but it’s also the time of a heated election battle between mayoral candidates. Incumbent Mayor Hensen is running for his third term in office, and the fat-cat is wielding every influence his has to keep him in his very comfortable seat. Running against him is Briar Creek Library head of circulation Ms. Eugenia Cole, formerly known as The Lemon but who has softened through romance and the reluctant influence of the Director, Lindsey Norris. No one more than Lindsey is surprised by the change in their relationship, as the Lemon once stood as the representative of everything Old School and a barrier for Lindsey’s more community-targeted library changes. Even the storytime-costumed children’s librarian Beth Barker has been swayed to the side of the formerly prissy staff member to the point that she’s now Ms. Cole’s campaign manager. The lead-up to the election is going to test all of Beth’s patience and Lindsey’s diplomatic skills, since the Mayor is still technically their boss and he insists on publicly insulting Ms. Cole in the very library where she has worked for forty years.
When going to retrieve lawn signs from her car trunk, Ms. Cole is stunned to discover her car vandalized and the signs strung all over the parking lot. Even more alarming is the body stuffed inside, especially when it turns out to have connections to Ms. Cole. While she hadn’t seen the victim in over forty years, the mayor doesn’t hesitate to start a campaign of rumors implicating Ms. Cole and linking her to the murder. So, it becomes a different type of race as Lindsey must prove Ms. Cole’s innocence not only to keep her from being arrested, but to do so before her reputation is so sullied that her polling rates tank and she is forced to pull out of the election.
This twelfth in the series continues to deliver all of the booklore, library appreciation, and quirky characters that readers have grown to love. Lindsey is still basking in her newlywed status with boat captain Mike “Sully” Sullivan, and their bookclubs meet to celebrate the works of Zora Neale Hurston (Readers Guide included). The dirty politics of a small-town election may hit a little too close to home and be fresh in everyone’s minds, especially when Ms. Cole is targeted with an ageist, misogynistic smear campaign. Humor and the love of libraries continues to rise through, though, especially when it is the power of librarian research that gets them closer to the truth. This is such a fun, satisfying, and uplifting mystery that even the cutthroat race for mayorship can’t keep this from being a witty and heart-warming read.
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