Series: Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #2
Published by Crooked Lane Books Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: A Murder for the Books, Past Due for Murder
Also by this author: A Murder for the Books, Past Due for Murder, Booked For Death
Autumn leaves aren’t the only things falling in the historic Virginia village of Taylorsford—so are some cherished memories, and a few bodies.
October in Taylorsford, Virginia means it’s leaf peeping season, with bright colorful foliage and a delightful fresh crew of tourists attending the annual Heritage Festival which celebrates local history and arts and crafts. Library director Amy Webber, though, is slightly dreading having to spend two days running a yard sale fundraiser for her library. But during these preparations, when she and her assistant Sunny stumble across a dead body, Amy finds a real reason to be worried.
The body belonged to a renowned artist who was murdered with her own pallet knife. A search of the artist’s studio uncovers a cache of forged paintings, and when the sheriff’s chief deputy Brad Tucker realizes Amy is skilled in art history research, she’s recruited to aid the investigation. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but when the state’s art expert uncovers a possible connection between Amy’s deceased uncle and the murder case, Amy must champion her Aunt Lydia to clear her late husband’s name.
That’s when another killing shakes the quiet town, and danger sweeps in like an autumn wind. Now, with her swoon-inducing neighbor Richard Muir, Amy must scour their resources to once again close the books on murder.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
I love libraries and cozy mysteries, and I’ve called Virginia home for half my life, so when I saw Shelved Under Murder pop up on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. And I wasn’t disappointed. Gilbert’s characterizations are good, with enough depth in the major recurring characters to make them believable as well as likable. The mystery itself held my attention, and several red herrings kept me guessing, though one of my suspects turned out to be correct. The mystery plot, centered around art forgery, was perhaps an odd choice for a small-town cozy mystery (I tend to associate forgers with cities, for some reason), but Gilbert made it work. My only real complaint is that Amy, the heroine, doesn’t exactly solve the mystery; instead, she is caught up in its unraveling and the obligatory confrontational denouement. On the other hand, Amy is sensible, on the whole (if somewhat prone to speculation); she doesn’t deliberately put herself into dangerous situations, and despite her fear, she keeps her head pretty well in a crisis — of which there are several. The TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine is one of my pet peeves, and they’re remarkably common in cozy mystery series, so I was delighted to discover that Amy does not fall in that category.
Also on the plus side is Amy’s friendly (but not romantic) relationship with the town’s chief deputy — refreshing after the number of antagonistic cop-heroine interactions I’ve come across in cozies in the last 10 years or so. Even more refreshing is the relationship between Amy and her boyfriend, Richard. I am so done with up-in-the-air romances in mystery series, where the author seems determined to inject additional tension by stringing out a love story without ever resolving it, or else makes the relationship itself a source of conflict by throwing in various obstacles to it. Thankfully, Gilbert isn’t playing those games, at least in this book: Amy and Richard are in love and on pretty solid ground. There were some incidents that could have led toward jealousy and conflict, but although Amy is a little insecure about her own attractiveness, she has no doubts about Richard’s feelings for her or hers for him. I sincerely hope the author continues developing their relationship along those lines; I’m happy to read mysteries where the heroine is in a settled relationship.
Final verdict: Shelved Under Murder is an entertaining mystery featuring interesting, likable characters and a pleasant setting. Even better, it avoids most of the more irritating tropes of the genre. I’m happy to have discovered the series, will continue to follow it, and plan to read the first book as soon as I can get my hands on it.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Birthday Bash 2018