Friday, May 11, 2018

A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

Reviewed by Jeanne

Librarian Amy Webber is settling into her new job in Taylorsford, Virginia, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  She’s moved in with an aunt after a romantic relationship came to a dramatic end involving a cheating partner, a mis-thrown drink, and a college dean.  She thought that was the worst thing that could happen to her.  And then she looked in the Archives shed.

The Archives shed is a storage area for town records.  This time it also holds the dead body of a former library volunteer, a woman suffering from dementia who had claimed she was being followed.

As if that wasn’t disconcerting enough, Amy’s new neighbor turns out to be the very handsome and very single Richard Muir. He’s moving into a house he inherited from his great uncle, a well-known author.  The house has another claim to fame:  it was the site where a young wife was accused of poisoning her husband.  She was acquitted, but people still believe she got away with murder.  It’s no wonder she fled the town not long after her release from jail. Intrigued by both Richard and the history, Amy begins to delve into the cold case, leaving the police to investigate the more recent murder.

Someone seems afraid that Amy may know more than she realizes—but about which crime?

I picked this up mostly because of the setting:  both the library and Blue Ridge Mountains, but there was also the promise of a historical mystery and the author delivered on all counts.  She certainly knows her libraries, and there was much that rang true—so much so that I encouraged (a much nicer word than “forced”) co-workers to read sections. 

The historical aspect was ingenious and particularly satisfying; very well done plotting and research made it quite memorable and plausible.  The modern component was interesting but fewer real clues meant a chatty resolution as the culprit had to explain why and how.

Overall, I found this soft boiled mystery to be quite enjoyable.  There are a number of likeable characters, including Amy herself, her match-making Aunt Lydia, and attractive Richard; an intriguing mystery; and maybe a touch of supernatural intervention.

I’ll be looking forward to the next in the series.

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