Series: Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #3
Published by Crooked Lane Books on February 12, 2019
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: Shelved Under Murder, A Murder for the Books
Also by this author: Shelved Under Murder, A Murder for the Books, Booked For Death
Has a curse fallen on the small town of Taylorsford, Virginia? After a young woman goes missing during a spring bonfire, library director Amy Webber must wade through the web of lies only to find a truth that she may not want to untangle.
Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first―but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire.
The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished―or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy.
When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events―and a dead body lying nearby―an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research, Amy may be the only one who can learn the truth.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Shattering the Stereotype
A guest post by Victoria Gilbert
Although I’m now retired (early, so I can write full-time) I worked as a librarian for over thirty years. For all of those years, and even now, I have seen the librarian stereotype perpetuated in ads, TV shows, films, and even other books. And for all of those years, that stereotype has bothered me.
Not that stereotypes can’t sometimes be used for humorous effect, but this particular one is so wrong that I feel it’s my duty to try to contradict it whenever I can.
In many instances, librarians are still portrayed as elderly ladies who wear their hair in a bun, along with sweater sets or frumpy dresses and a string of pearls. They are almost always elderly, white, and female. They like shush patrons and are generally bitter and cranky. They sit behind big wooden desks, still use a card catalog, and seem to spend most of their time stamping due dates in books.
Let me dispel this image!
First, librarians are not all female. Nor are they all old, white, or individuals who possess shy, retiring, personalities.
In my many years working as a librarian and library director, I have worked with all of the following: male librarians, young librarians, LGBTQ librarians, tattooed and pierced librarians, very gregarious and social librarians, and librarians of every ethnicity and cultural background.
Also, given that librarians constantly interact with a wide variety of patrons, they must possess great people skills. Being extremely reserved or introverted is NOT a good qualification for this career. In fact, if someone goes into librarianship with the aim of avoiding people, they’d better hope they can find a position in cataloging or some other “back office” area (although they still have to be able to work well with their coworkers!) Honestly, being able to successfully interact with a diverse population of patrons is an essential requirement for most library positions.
Today, libraries are not secluded ivory towers where decorum and silence reign. They are often noisy, exciting places where people of all backgrounds congregate to learn, discover, and share information.
Truthfully, in all my years of librarianship, I never once shushed a patron. (Sometimes I had to shush my library staff though!) With many schools and universities requiring a tremendous amount of group work, libraries must provide areas where students can interact and collaborate. Libraries also provide life-long learning through literacy training, workshops, and other educational opportunities. Most of this involves group discussion and conversation, so the days of silent libraries are long gone. (Although most libraries do try to provide some designated “quiet spaces” for those who need them).
Also gone, despite the media portrayals, are card catalogs. They have been replaced by online systems in almost all libraries, even the small libraries in K-12 schools. Librarians generally do not just sit behind desks checking out books, either. Circulation activities happen at self-serve kiosks as well as at desks staffed by library assistants or, at schools and colleges, by student workers. Reference desks are being replaced with “roving librarians,” who go where the patrons need assistance, instead of making the patrons come to them. Rather than just providing tables and chairs, most libraries now offer “maker spaces” that include the latest technology, as well as computer labs, loans of laptops and other devices, group study spaces, lecture halls, community meeting rooms, and even online gaming rooms.
As libraries have changed dramatically over the last decades, so have librarians. Now they must be savvy with cutting edge technology and have to continually update their knowledge of new trends in education, business, computing, and other fields.
So the next time you see an old-fashioned portrayal of a librarian, please remember that this is just a stereotype. Librarians can be, and are, as diverse as any other profession. Their one similarity? The desire to help other people discover, understand, and use information and knowledge, and the joy they take in promoting the love of books and reading.
Another winner in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series! I’ve really been enjoying it, as you know if you’ve read my previous reviews, and this one is just as good as the first two. Ms. Gilbert does a great job of balancing the mystery (or rather, mysteries, one present and one historical) with the ongoing and developing relationships between the characters and townspeople. I love Amy, the protagonist, a library director with a puzzle-solver’s mind, and her boyfriend, dancer and choreographer Richard, who teaches at a nearby college. Amy’s unmarried Aunt Lydia is a delight, and a host of interesting secondary characters, from Brad the chief deputy to Amy’s assistant Sunny to the wealthy but mysterious art dealer Kurt, make the town of Taylorsville come alive.
We meet some new characters this time around, some enjoyable and some decidedly less so. Amy’s former boyfriend, the cheating Charles, falls in the latter category. I wasn’t any too pleased with Richard’s parents, either. Amy and Richard’s relationship continues to develop, if slowly. After far too many series that play the “will they/won’t they” game, keeping relationships hanging in an unresolved state, I am grateful for series like this one that build a romantic relationship believably over time.
Virginia folklore and traditional music play a part in this book, and I enjoyed the hint of magic, or at least the unexplainable, that the former lent to the story. Don’t misunderstand; it’s not a fantasy-mystery in any sense of the term; it’s very much a traditional cozy, and more realistic and grounded than many. I highly recommend the series, and this book, if you’re a fan of cozy mysteries.
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for a signed hardcover copy of Past Due for Murder! Just enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win.
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