Series: Haunted Library Mystery #1
Published by Crooked Lane Books on October 10, 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop
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Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she's offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.
The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie's determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it's the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura's case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.
Now it's due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue, the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Character Guest Post
Lark here! Interesting characters are part of what make cozy mysteries so much fun — both the likable ones and the less-than-friendly characters. Carrie Singleton, newly appointed head of Programs and Events for the Clover Ridge Library (and our intrepid heroine), has met her share of both, including a nemesis among her own coworkers. Dorothy Hawkins is not fond of Carrie, and she. . . well, let’s let Dorothy tell it her way.
(Pssst! Don’t miss the giveaway later in this post!)
Guest Post, as told by Dorothy Hawkins
Hello. You’ve asked me to write about myself because I appear in Allison Brook’s cozy DEATH OVERDUE. Here I am, but I’m not sure what you expect me to say. I’m the Reference Librarian at the Clover Ridge Library in Clover Ridge, Connecticut. That should be enough. Why do you care how old I am—forty-seven. Or if I’m married—yes I am. I’ve a daughter living in Seattle, but she doesn’t bother to write home very often to her father and me. I couldn’t say why. It’s her choice. Her life.
I’m a very efficient reference librarian. If you ask for information about a subject, I’ll get it to you in record time. Okay, you’ve heard I’m not always “pleasant.” What exactly does that mean? You expect me to serve you your information on a pretty platter? Sally, my director, has told me patrons have complained about my being snippy. I’m not snippy. I’m here to dole out information, not to make friends.
And right now I am furious! I knew Sally was looking for a new Head of Programs and Events because Barbara was moving to California. I told Sally—whom I THOUGHT was my friend—that I wanted the position. But no! She listened to Mr. Big Shot Bosco Singleton and offered the job to his grand-niece Carrie. Carrie’s a kid with not much experience. So what if she has the “right” credentials? I have the experience of working in our library all these years. She only got the job because Bosco is on the library board.
I decided to vent my emotions. Nothing big. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt the library’s reputation, but Carrie deserved to be taken down a few pegs. So I hid a film Carrie had scheduled to show. And would you believe it? She figured out where I’d put it. Then I made a few calls to some of the presenters, telling them their programs had been cancelled. Carrie’s assistant caught that and nipped it in the bud. It certainly didn’t warrant Carrie’s putting a huge spider on my desk. Okay, it was fake but I hate spiders! I wonder how she found out I hated them. Unless my aunt Evelyn told her. But that’s impossible! Aunt Evelyn worked in the library for years, but she’s been gone these past six years…Could it be? No. I don’t believe in ghosts.
No success so far, but I won’t give up trying to get rid of Carrie Singleton. I’ve a few more tricks up my sleeve.
Sounds like Carrie will need to keep her wits about her! You have to wonder what turned Dorothy so sour and vindictive, though. Surely she wasn’t always like that?
In my opinion, a library is just about the perfect setting for a cozy mystery. Especially a small-town library. Librarians see many of a town’s residents in the course of a year: borrowing books, asking for help from at the reference desk, using the free internet, attending book clubs and author events, doing homework, bringing their toddlers for Story Time… Some come in for shelter from the elements, some to learn a new skill. I can’t think of many other professions that bring a person into contact with such a broad spectrum of a town’s population.
So I was excited when I saw the launch of a new library-based cozy series—and doubly so when I discovered there’s also a ghost! Ghosts and old libraries go together as comfortably as either one does with cozy mysteries. Combining the three is a surefire way to get my attention.
Death Overdue does exactly that, and offers up an engaging main character in Carrie Singleton. Carrie has always had a hard time settling down anywhere, but she has been back in her family’s hometown for about 6 months. She’s almost ready to leave when the head librarian offers her an almost irresistible promotion: head of Programs and Events. Carrie accepts the position, tones down her purple hair, and tackles her new responsibilities with determination and enthusiasm. But when a guest presenter, a former policeman who believes he has solved a cold case, drops dead of poisoning, Carrie feels responsible, and decides to investigate on her own. I admit I wasn’t quite sold on Carrie’s need to investigate, but this is a cozy and that’s one of the basic premises of the genre, so I just accepted her decision and moved on. Once I did, I was soon pulled into the mystery, and before long, I was turning pages eagerly.
The secondary characters run the gamut from helpful (Carrie’s part-time assistant, Trish) to supportive (Carrie’s great-uncle and great-aunt) to intimidating (Sally, the head librarian) to sneakily vindictive (reference librarian Dorothy, whose guest post appears above.) There are a number of suspects, starting with the family of the cold-case murder victim, one of whom may also be an ally in Carrie’s search for Al’s killer, as well as a potential romantic interest. I’ll be honest, I’ve been reading cozies for so many years that I immediately suspected him purely on the “least likely suspect” principle. . . and no, I’m not going to tell you if I was right! The pool of suspects expands over a number of chapters, so it’s not a good idea to fix on a particular individual too soon. A good cozy needs plenty of suspects, and Death Overdue offers enough of them to keep me guessing for quite a while.
There’s more than one potential love interest, too, and several people who could become good friends. The first novel in a series always involves a lot of set-up: establishing the setting and the regular characters. In this case, the latter certainly include Carrie’s uncle and aunt, her cousin’s family, and her coworkers—at the very least. And, of course, the ghost.
I was somewhat bemused by the library’s ghost, a former librarian, and especially by Carrie’s reaction to her. She is entertaining as a character, but if I met a ghost in real life, I would be much less nonplussed than Carrie is. She takes the ghost completely in stride, with barely a ripple of surprise. I’d have been freaking out, and I wouldn’t have gotten over it nearly as quickly. Even if Carrie is pretty matter-of-fact and hard to surprise, that scene fell a little flat for me—though it was one of the only ones that did. I remained intrigued by what the ghost does and doesn’t know, and what she is and isn’t willing to discuss. I also wonder if she herself might be a murder victim, though her death was widely accepted as an accident. Maybe we’ll find out in a future book.
As you can tell, I’m already looking forward to the next one!
Enter to win a print copy of Death Overdue! The giveaway is tour-wide.
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