Read on Arrival A Bookmobile Mystery By Nora Page: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Jun 15, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Nora Page

This week we have a review of a fun book related series, the latest Bookmobile Mystery, by Nora Page and a fun guest post by Nora about the history of mobile libraries. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Read on Arrival, a link to purchase it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

Read on Arrival: A Bookmobile Mystery by Nora Page
Review by Cynthia Chow

Librarian Cleo Watkins is extremely protective of her “Words on Wheels” bookmobile, especially since the Catalpa Springs Library Board president Mercer Whitty seems to consider both of them outdated and overpriced. Cleo is justifiably threatened by his infatuation with Belle Beauchamp’s attention-grabbing BOOK IT! mobile library, as its noisy, carnival-like atmosphere overshadows all book-lending functionality. Perhaps that’s why Cleo decides to focus her attention on her White Whale of an overdue book, one that Dixie Huddleston has kept out of circulation since she borrowed it forty-five years ago. For decades the real estate agent has taunted Cleo with the ever-accruing overdue fines, so she’s more doubtful than hopeful when Dixie once again promises its return. Cleo still can’t ignore the chance to finally have the book back where it belongs, which explains why she happens to be the one who discovers Dixie dead, locked her in a closet, and done in by a fatal bee sting and tampered medication.mystery

Cleo and Dixie’s lifelong warfare was never a secret, placing Cleo high on the suspect list in the eyes of the town and the newly empathetic, seminar-trained police chief. Cleo’s not the only one to have conflict with the manipulative, greedy, and cheating real estate, though, there’s numerous candidates as the killer. Dixie’s son plans to use his inheritance to start a school for mimes, her daughter feels triumphant that she won out by never apologizing before returning home, and a former client blames Dixie for a home filled with toxic mold poisoning. When paper coffins filled with dire bad luck threats spread paranoia and fear throughout Catalpa Springs, Cleo grows worried about the safety of herself and her friends. An attack on her bookmobile, trail of blackmail victims, and additional murder all spur Cleo into action and use her librarian-honed observation skills to track down both her missing book and a murderer.

Librarians and library aficionados will adore the septuagenarian biblio-professional and share Cleo’s horror at the thought of a library cataloging books not by Dewey Decimal but by color. A “bookmobile” filled with color-matched, but completely impractical and title-obliterating book jackets? Community centers are one thing, party central sites are another. Cleo’s lucky enough to have friends who support her sentiments, including her young protégé Leanna ready to uphold the librarian cause, Cleo’s gentleman-friend Henry Lafayette, and his pug Mr. Chaucer. They bring out the softer side of a very serious Cleo, who adores her Persian cat Rhett Butler and somehow finds herself nearly adopting Dixie’s submissive best friend. Readers will be more than ready to rally for the cause to save the “Words on Wheels” bookmobile, especially if it means spending more time with the very practical, witty, and reluctantly empathetic librarian.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Books on the Move
By Nora Page

In the Bookmobile Mysteries, senior librarian Cleo Watkins discovers bookmobiling later in life. One of her grandsons refurbishes a retired school bus for Cleo’s library. He tears out the bench seats and replaces them with handmade bookshelves. As a finishing flare, he adds airbrushed flames to the front and the vehicle’s name in opalescent green script across each side: Words on Wheels.

In Cleo’s mind, Words on Wheels is the prettiest bookmobile in the South, if not far beyond. Cleo adores the wind in her white hair and a newly discovered passion for driving (sometimes a smidgeon too fast).

Most of all, Cleo loves what the bookmobile delivers to her tiny hometown of Catalpa Springs, Georgia. Words on Wheels can reach patrons who might be unable to visit the main library. Cleo rolls up to schools, retirement homes, parks, pancake shops, and country crossroads, bringing a world of reading and joy.

Spotting a bookmobile is like hearing the jingle of an ice-cream truck on a sweltering summer day, sweet-toothed Cleo would say. Both offer treats, but the bookish goodies last longer.

When looking into bookmobiles for this series, I came across examples of inspiring mobile libraries. I can’t help fantasizing about what fun Cleo would have with them. Here are just a few of my favorites and surely Cleo’s too.

The horseback librarians of Appalachia. Between 1935 and 1943, hearty “packsaddle librarians,” many of them women, tallied up thousands of miles in the saddle, delivering donated books. They skirted cliffs, forged streams, and trekked through deep snow. Having an embarrassingly well-demonstrated phobia of horseback riding, even under the most placid conditions, I consider these women beyond heroic and brave. Cleo, however, would gallop through the mountains fearlessly.


Packsaddle Librarians in KY

The biblioburros of Colombia. Continuing with equine-riding librarians who can bring me to sentimental tears, check out the story of Luis Soriano and his two intrepid donkeys. Mr. Soriano, a teacher, wanted to share his collection of books. He acquired two donkeys — one for him to ride and another to carry the library — and devotes his weekends to reaching children in need, braving conflicts along the way. He and the intrepid burros have become celebrities far beyond the villages he visits. Look up his name and “biblioburro,” and you can find extolling stories, a PBS documentary, and a recent children’s book.



Floating libraries. Would Cleo like to captain a boat? You bet she would! I recently came across a story about a library boat in Sweden that sets sail each spring to visit small islands. A snippet from the article suggests what a joy the boat’s arrival must be: “When it docks, island residents have about one-and-a-half glorious hours to come aboard the motor ship, browse its treasures, and borrow anything they’d like. Each island has one library card, and, in a delightful detail, there are no penalties if a book isn’t returned six months later.”

I may never get to see this boat, but I hope it survives. Similar floating libraries, such as the Epos in Norway, serve other island communities. Cleo would be at the helm, white hair whipping in the sea gales.


Mobile library boat MS Epos in Bergen, Norway

Whether on wheels or water, elephants or donkeys, Cleo would love all these moving libraries. Their librarians surely share her passion for delivering the joy, solace, and excitement of books.

Do you have a bookmobile in your town? Did you have one when you were growing up? I’d love to hear about it!

To enter to win a copy of Read On Arrival, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “arrival,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 22, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Nora Page enjoys rainy weather, the perfect biscuit, and quiet evenings in with her husband and cat. You can often find her in the company of books. Stop by and visit on Facebook ,, or her website.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. 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.


  1. Looks like a great read! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  2. Bookmobiles always seemed like a good idea to me.

    • Cleo would definitely agree. 🙂

  3. I wish we’d had a bookmobile, but then our town is so small it probably isnt necessary, as you’re never more than a minute’s drive from the library.

    • How wonderful to have a library so close!

  4. “Read on Arrival” sounds like my kind of read. Adding to my TBR list.

  5. I remember when I drove the bookmobile. These books are way more fun.

    • Neat, Theresa, although I’m sure I’d find the books more fun too.

  6. Sounds like fun, I’d love to win a copy. Thanks for the chance! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  7. This book sound like a lot of fun and a great little cozy.

  8. Really enjoyed the blurb. And the post. Librarians hold a special place in my heart. My Granma took me to get my first book when I was 3. The librarian was a friend of hers and she encouraged me to not only read. But to branch out and enjoy many genre’s. Fact and Fiction.

    • Aw, what a sweet memory. My grandmother was a librarian for a while and always had stacks of library books on hand too.

  9. I’m in Brooklyn NY. There’s a library branch near my home that is the parking place for a small bookmobile. They use this one where the streets are narrow and a large school bus sized unit wouldn’t fit. It’s extremely cute and I’d love to see the inside of it then next time it’s parked there.

    Please enter me in the book giveaway for this library mobile story.

    • Oh how cute! I hope you can peek inside soon.

  10. These bookmobile stories are truly inspiring. Imagine donkeys and horses and boats bringing books. Thanks for the contest.
    ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

    • I know–such brave, awesome librarians! Thanks for commenting and entering!

  11. LOVE the bookmobile mystery series by Nora Page! What an original theme and heroine!

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed this second bookmobile mystery featuring my favorite librarian, Cleo Jane Watkins! She takes sleuthing seriously, and once again she manages to track down the murderer. There are some wonderfully quirky characters, all suspects, so I was kept guessing as to who dunnit right up until the reveal. I highly recommend this book!

    • Thank you, Jane! I’m so glad you enjoyed Cleo’s latest adventure!

  13. I loved reading about bookmobiles, floating and packsaddle libraries and biblioburros in your latest blog featuring author Nora Page. I’ve read her books and highly approve! We didn’t have a bookmobile in our town while I was growing up, but my mom was one of our town librarians. I spent many hours in the reading room after school waiting for her to finish her shift. It instilled a love of reading in me that lasts to this day. Librarians are my heroes!

    • Thanks, Carol! Librarians are heroes!

  14. I just discovered Nora Page’s delightful series. As a librarian, I’ve decided that I want to be just like Cleo when I grow up, just with fewer crimes to solve. She is both hilarious and inspirational as a librarian who has to simultaneously protect her library from spending cuts and the community from murderers. I hope this series continues for a long time.

  15. This is so delightful and special. Thanks for this feature and giveaway.

  16. Sounds interesting.

  17. This sounds great! Legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

  18. This book sounds amazing. I love the bookmoble! I can’t wait to read it soon. Thank you for the chance. A new author to me.

  19. Just discovered this series and am loving it.

  20. Just discovered this series and can’t wait for the next one.

  21. We have a winner!


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