A Murder for the Books
By Victoria Gilbert
A Blue Ridge Library Mystery #1
Crooked Lane, 2017
Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.
Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families… including her own.
When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.
A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert is a well-crafted cozy mystery that begins a promising new series. It features several appealing elements … small-town setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a head librarian as the protagonist, romance, star-crossed lovers, family history with secrets, and two murders to solve – a contemporary and a cold case. Everything worked together to make an enjoyable reading experience.
Characterization was interesting in this story … Amy’s work at the library paved the way for logical research, and Richard’s profession as dancer and choreographer was unusual and fascinating. Two secondary characters also added depth and I look forward to seeing more from them – Sunny, Amy’s assistant, whose name described her perfectly, and Amy’s Aunt Libby, who I fell in love with. The mystery theme, especially the historical one, captured my interest and the “reveal” was surprising, although plausible.
While I enjoyed A Murder for the Books and would like to read more in the series, a few things would have made this story better for me … The romance between Amy and Richard was sweet, but developed a little too quickly for my tastes; would rather have seen it grow over several books. And as enjoyable as the “actors” were, I would have preferred more character depth and less romance. Finally, although the story is clean, there’s some profanity scattered throughout that was entirely unnecessary and detracted from my enjoyment.
Overall, A Murder for the Books is a fun cozy read and I will enjoy seeing how these characters develop as the series progresses.
I was provided a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director.
When not writing or reading, Victoria likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, and is represented by Frances Black at Literary Council, NY, NY.
Victoria lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. This is her first Blue Ridge Library mystery.
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