Buried in the Stacks
By Allison Brook
A Haunted Library Mystery #3
Crooked Lane Books, 2019
Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?
In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.
As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.
And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?
Buried in the Stacks is an entertaining cozy mystery and I am glad to have discovered the writing of Allison Brook. Setting plays an important part in the story – the small New England town of Clover Ridge, Connecticut for one, but especially that of the town library. Many of the recurring series characters work there – and then there’s the library cat, Smoky Joe, and the library’s resident ghost, Evelyn. Although I’ve not read the previous two books, enough background is given so that this story can stand alone.
I loved how a relevant and compelling social issue is featured, that of the homeless. Winter in Clover Ridge causes some homeless individuals and families to seek daytime shelter in the library, which can lead to tension with library patrons. The author does a good job at helping us see this group as individuals with some background stories and I appreciated that the community was willing to work toward a solution.
Carrie is a strong, caring and appealing leading lady. Her cat, Smoky Joe, adds a lot to the story, and even contributes to the murderer’s capture toward the end. The murder victim in this story, Dorothy, was not well liked due to her abrasive personality – and then there was her habit of snooping around, gathering people’s secrets, and proceeding to blackmail them. Obviously, there were several potential suspects! And then there was Haven House – a local facility meant to provide daytime shelter for the homeless, but was not all that it seemed as criminal elements were discovered.
I’m not sure how I feel about Carrie’s romantic relationship with Dylan, which has been slowly progressing through the series. I didn’t sense much chemistry between them and Carrie seems to feel insecure in the relationship, especially as Dylan makes a major career decision without involving Carrie. I’d kind of like for Dylan to fade out of the picture because Carrie deserves so much better.
Buried in the Stacks comes to a satisfying conclusion, with the ending nicely setting up the next book, which involves Carrie’s mother. Their relationship seems strained to say the least, so we should have some good storytelling to look forward to.
The only negatives for me … I would have liked a little more character depth on the whole, and the occasional use of mild profanity was a disappointment. Still a good read overall, one that cozy mystery fans should enjoy.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.