A Murder for the Books (Victoria Gilbert)

July 19, 2018 Book Reviews 4 ★★★★½

A Murder for the Books (Victoria Gilbert)A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert
Series: Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #1
Published by Crooked Lane Books Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also in this series: Shelved Under Murder
Also by this author: Shelved Under Murder

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.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

I enjoyed A Murder for the Books just as much, if not a hair more, than the second one, Shelved Under Murder (review), and for most of the same reasons:

  • an engaging, realistic, and sensible heroine…
  • …who has a believable reason to get involved in the investigation (beyond finding the body)
  • a charming but also realistic small-town setting, complete with budget concerns, small-town politics, and a habit of labeling newcomers as “outsiders”
  • a mystery that both held my attention and fit the small-town setting
  • a believable, friendly but nonromantic relationship between heroine and policeman
  • recurring secondary characters who are individual but not overly eccentric (and who, in a few cases, offer scope for future mysteries)
  • and a romantic relationship I really like

There are several mysteries in A Murder for the Books, in both the past and the present, and it takes a while for Amy to figure out the degree to which any of them interconnect. Was Eleanor Cooper guilty or innocent of her husband’s poisoning, nearly 100 years ago? How does that mystery relate to a mass poisoning almost 25 years later, and is there any relation to the present-day murder of a library patron with dementia? Ms. Gilbert handles the multiple threads of the story well, and although I had to turn back once or twice to make sure I remembered all the various plot points correctly, everything made sense in the end.

I find Amy, the heroine, very easy to relate to, in part because I’m similar to her in some ways, from enjoying library work and research (I almost went to library school myself) to being a bit self-conscious about her curves. She’s loyal and protective toward her friends and family, values both justice and truth, and has a kind heart alongside a realistic view of human nature. I like her enormously. I also like Richard Muir, the dancer-choreographer who lives next door to Amy and her aunt Lydia and doesn’t hide his attraction to Amy. The remaining cast of regulars, from Amy’s Aunt Lydia to Sunny, her library assistant; Vera and Walt, Lydia’s childhood friends; and Brad, the town’s sheriff, are interesting and likeable, and I look forward to meeting them in future books.

In fact, I’m looking forward to future books in general, and there’s one due out in February 2019: Past Due for Murder (Goodreads.) Yay!

NOTE: I read the first two books out of order, not remembering that I had a copy of the first book on my Kindle. While that didn’t pose a problem — either can stand on its own — I would recommend reading them in order for continuity.

four-half-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2018 Blogger Shame Challenge
  • COYER Birthday Bash 2018

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