Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries, Book #1)
by Victoria Gilbert
Release Date: December 12th, 2017
2017 Crooked Lane Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1683314394
ASIN: B072396CZL
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Fleeing 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.

My Thoughts
A Murder for the Books is the first in a new series, the Blue Ridge Library Mysteries, and I thought it was a nice start to what could be an interesting series.  After catching her ex-boyfriend in a compromising position at a party, Amy reacted in a way that forced her to make a hasty retreat from a beloved job, move in with her aunt, and take over the job as a local librarian in the small town in which her aunt lives.  Being a fan of such scenarios, I was looking forward to simple who-dun-it, and it didn't disappoint in that regard.

I think my biggest issue with the cozy mystery genre is the way they often treat the local police and their lack of ability to solve crimes: you know, you have to suspend you disbelief a bit too much and accept the fact that police officers can't find the clues on their own, or aren't capable of interrogating suspects or witnesses capable, and I get really frustrated by this.  And sometimes it's a little too much suspension for my liking.  This novel however, didn't treat the police that way as Amy used her research skills to help her neighbour work on a personal project and discovered information through that research, which she shared with the police.  This is something that I liked and found much more convincing.  It really made the story much more credible, and because of that, I found the research and the subsequent activities and actions to be quite interesting and entertaining.  There were a few twists and turns that I wasn't expecting, and even though I guessed who the murderer was quite early on, those research twists made the novel, and the resulting research that Amy and Richard did, quite fascinating.  And I suppose it was the research for me that made this book so interesting; that is why we read, isn't it?

As for the characters, while I didn't quite connect with either of them, I did find them charming and interesting.  I did develop a particular fondness for Amy's Aunt Lydia, and interestingly enough, the local policeman, Brad, who was actually allowed to shine during the investigation instead of looking like a bumbling idiot.  The writing was really good though, clear and concise, and I have to admit the plot was at times, quite clever.  

A Murder for the Books was an entertaining first novel, and definitely set up the characters for some interesting times ahead; I am looking forward to learning more about some of the other characters introduced in this novel.  This was an easy read, and I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series, Shelved Under Murder, to be published July 2018.


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