Series: Lighthouse Library Mystery #6
Published by Crooked Lane Books on October 15, 2019
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Mystery
Source: the publisher
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Also by this author: By Book or By Crook
Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can't crack its code, she may end up read and buried.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library's foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.
The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library--the map and the coded page are missing.
Lucy's nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy--or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she's forced to do what she vowed not to do--get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Read and Buried, the sixth Lighthouse Library Mystery, is just as much fun as the first one! Lucy has settled into her job and life in the Outer Banks; she’s more confident in herself and is enjoying a budding romance with a former summer sweetheart, now the mayor. But her curiosity and concern for her friends make it impossible for her to keep her vow to stay out of things when yet another dead body turns up in the library. Of course, she’s equally interested in solving the puzzle of a mysterious coded document and map, dating to sometime around the Civil War. And so is almost everyone else involved in the library or historical society.
On the whole, the book is well-plotted, and will probably leave you guessing. Many of the suspects are people that series fans will have encountered before, which in some ways makes it harder rather than easier to figure out “whodunnit.” I admit to being surprised by the culprit’s identity, though in retrospect the clues were there all along (if a trifle scant.) I was less surprised with the ultimate solution of the code and map, as I had a strong suspicion what it involved, but it was still fun to see the characters’ obsession with solving it finally satisfied.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this series should definitely be on your TBR list. The Outer Banks setting is warm and relaxed (mostly), the characters are interesting without being over-the-top eccentrics (again mostly), and Lucy, the protagonist and first-person narrator, is charming: loyal, reasonably intelligent, good-natured… and constitutionally unable to refrain from trying to solve a puzzle, whether it’s a coded message or a man’s death.
If you’re new to the series, I recommend starting at the beginning, where you’ll get the best introduction to many of the secondary characters. Everyone’s position in the community or relationship to the others is explained, so new readers won’t be entirely at sea… but there are rather a lot of characters to keep track of. I was grateful that I had read at least the first book before reading this one; there were a few unfamiliar characters who were apparently introduced in the intervening books, but I didn’t have to try to “learn” the entire cast at once.
A solid plotline, plenty of suspects and misdirection, an engaging heroine and an almost irresistible setting: Read and Buried has it all. (Even a library cat.)
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