Series: Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #5
Published by Crooked Lane Books on December 8, 2020
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble
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Also in this series: Shelved Under Murder, A Murder for the Books, Past Due for Murder
Also by this author: Shelved Under Murder, A Murder for the Books, Past Due for Murder, Booked For Death
"Til death do us part" could be closer than the bride realizes in Victoria Gilbert's tantalizing fifth Blue Ridge Library mystery.
The pursuit to acquire a rare illustrated book turns deadly, and on the eve of her upcoming wedding, library director Amy Webber is drawn into a web of treachery and betrayal that could derail her happy day—and maybe just claim her life.
Planning a wedding can be murder—sometimes literally. At a party celebrating their upcoming nuptials, Taylorsford, Virginia library director Amy Webber and her fiancé Richard Muir discover the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio—a bitter rival of their host, Kurt Kendrick.
Both had been in a heated battle to purchase a rare illustrated volume created by William Morris's Kelmscott Press, so suspicion immediately falls upon Kurt. Amy knows that Kurt has a closet-full of skeletons from his past—but she can't believe he's guilty of murder.
Amidst an avalanche of wedding preparations, Amy begins an investigation with the help of her aunt Lydia Talbot and the new mayor of Taylorsford, Sunshine "Sunny" Fields. Much to Lydia's dismay, her boyfriend, art expert Hugh Chen, becomes convinced of Kurt's guilt and launches an investigation of his own. As the case hits painfully close to home, the stakes become impossibly high—and the danger all too real.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
An Interview with Amy Webber
I recently sat down for a chat with Amy Webber, a librarian and the heroine of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library Mystery series.
LARK: Welcome to The Bookwyrm’s Hoard, Amy! For my readers who haven’t met you yet, can you tell us a little about yourself, what you do, and where you’re from?
AMY: Hello, everyone. I’m a thirty-something librarian with an undergraduate degree in Art History. I live in my mother’s hometown now – Taylorsford, a small but beautiful historic town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Virginia. My mom grew up in Taylorsford with her sister, Lydia.
I moved from a library job at a nearby university to take over as director of the Taylorsford Public Library a few years ago after an…unfortunate incident involving my ex-boyfriend. I wasn’t too sure at first, but now I love living in Taylorsford, especially since I get to live with my Aunt Lydia in her lovely Queen Anne Revival home, and I get to spend more time with my best friend, Sunshine “Sunny” Fields.
I actually grew up with my family—mom Debbie, dad Nicholas, and brother Scott—a little farther east in Virginia, closer to the coast, but spent a lot of summers in Taylorsford when I was young.
LARK: What drew you towards library work, and what do you enjoy most about it? I considered becoming a librarian after college, but was worried about the extra student loan debt, so I took another path. Sometimes I wish I had gone after that library degree, though! It’s still my dream job.
AMY: After I got my undergraduate degree in Art History, I decided I would rather work in libraries rather than teach or work in an art museum, so I went to graduate school to get my MLS degree. I love books and reading and research, so it was a natural fit. I was lucky enough to get a tuition waiver for my library program, because I agreed to work in the university library while getting my degree. That was really the only way I could afford it, and I’m thankful my MLS program offered me that opportunity.
LARK: How did you first get mixed up in solving mysteries? And incidentally, how have you and the police chief managed to stay friendly despite your involvement? Not every policeman is as tolerant of civilian involvement as Brad Tucker is.
AMY: As Ms. Gilbert chronicled in A Murder for the Books, my first encounter with murder was when I literally stumbled over a dead body in the archives. (The Taylorsford Public Library manages the town archives, which are housed in a small, separate, stone building behind our 1919 Carnegie library). Because the murder happened on property I manage, and I knew the victim, I was immediately invested in helping to solve the mystery. I have unfortunately encountered several dead bodies and mysteries since!
I think one reason Brad Tucker and the other deputies get along with me is that I never try to take over their investigations. I offer to help with research—which I’m more skilled at than the sheriff’s department, honestly—and I sometimes conduct a few of my own interviews when the crimes touch upon people close to me, but I do share any relevant information I find with the authorities as soon as possible. I have even been recruited by Brad to help on certain cases. (My background in Art History proved very helpful on one case). Occasionally I don’t get a chance to tell Brad and the sheriff’s department every new bit of information or deduction before things get dangerous, but I do try.
LARK: If you’ll pardon me saying so, Taylorsford seems to have an unusually high murder rate for such a small and charming town. Do you have any idea why?
AMY: I really don’t know, although several of the murders are related to people and events—either from the past or the present—from outside of the town proper, so it isn’t quite as insular as it seems.
LARK: You and Richard have been together since your first adventure. Now you are getting married. Congratulations! I am so happy for you. But even your wedding preparations seem fraught with danger. What are your plans for the future? Will you keep investigating mysteries once you’re married? And will you let Ms. Gilbert keep writing about your exploits?
AMY: Thanks, I’m looking forward to the wedding too! I feel like the luckiest person in the world to get to marry a great man who is one of my best friends as well as my romantic partner.
As for the future, I would be quite content to never have to help investigate a murder again. But now that the sheriff’s department and other authorities know what assistance I can offer through my research abilities and, as Richard would say, my sheer determination to solve mysteries, I suspect I may have to jump back into sleuthing at some point.
I know Ms. Gilbert plans to write about any of my future forays into solving murders and other crimes—in fact, she’s told me that she has contracts for at least two more books (six and seven) if anything happens in the near future. So you can definitely look forward to reading more about me, along with all of my family and friends, and any of our future exploits!
LARK: Well, I hope for your sake you never have to deal with murder again—but for me and the rest of Ms. Gilbert’s readers, I’m delighted that she’s ready to chronicle your adventures if you do!
Thank you so much for talking with me today, Amy. Please give my best to Richard, Aunt Lydia, Sunny, and your other friends. I feel I know you all already. One of these days, I hope to get to Taylorsford to meet you all in person!
With her wedding only weeks away, Amy Webber is dismayed when she stumbles across the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio at a party given for her and her fiancé, dancer and choreographer Richard Muir. There are plenty of suspects, including the party’s host, Kurt Kendrick, another art dealer with a somewhat murky past and a connection to Amy’s deceased uncle; Adele Tourneau, Richard’s mentor and former instructor; Amy’s brother Scott, whose government job may not be quite as deskbound as he pretends; and the dead man’s timid personal assistant. With so many people she cares about involved on some level or another, Amy can’t help investigating… even in the midst of the wedding preparations.
I’ve been a fan of the Blue Ridge Library series since book one, A Murder for the Books. The series hits all the right notes for me, while avoiding all my cozy-mystery pet peeves. Amy is both intelligent and savvy. She doesn’t withhold information she thinks may be relevant, but passes it along to the police in the form of Chief Deputy Brad Tucker, with whom she has a friendly and mutually respectful relationship. Amy doesn’t ignore common sense, or make a habit of putting herself in dangerous situations; as she said in the interview above, she’s more about research and asking questions, not trying to do the police’s job for them—in marked contrast to the plethora of cozy mystery series in which the police are either stupid or pigheaded, and/or in which the heroine is TSTL. (TSTL stands for “too stupid to live”, and is shorthand for the type of heroine who blithely waltzes into potentially deadly situations alone, without telling anyone.)
In addition, Amy is personable, friendly, and loyal… but she almost never lets personal loyalties blind her to the possibility that someone could be guilty. And her relationships with Richard and her best friend Sunny are real and solid and adult—by which I mean that they talk to each other, they work out their problems, and they trust each other.
A Deadly Edition maintains that streak of hitting the right notes, although the mystery is almost too convoluted this time around. My head was spinning, trying to keep track of all the intertwined investigations, possible motives, and echoes from the past, but it all made sense in the end. (And as it turned out, I did spot the villain fairly early on.) Ms. Gilbert maintains a good balance between the mystery (or mysteries) and the details of Amy’s life, from her everyday work at the library to wedding prep, and the book concludes on a very happy note indeed. I read it when I was feeling a little blue about the upcoming holidays, and it was just the treat I needed.
If you haven’t read the series yet, I really recommend starting at the beginning. While you probably could read A Deadly Edition as a standalone, there is a lot of carryover from one book to the next, not only in terms of recurring characters but also revelations from the characters’ pasts, that often have some bearing on what is happening in the present. And if you enjoy a mystery series where the main character’s romantic relationship actually develops over time (instead of existing in a limbo of will-they-won’t-they), you will definitely want to start with A Murder for the Books.
(Counted toward COYER Quarantine 2020 and the New Release Catch Up readathon.)
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Quarantine Edition (2020)