Read and Buried
By Eva Gates
Lighthouse Library Mystery #6
Crooked Lane Books, 2019
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.
Read and Buried by Eva Gates is an entertaining cozy mystery that blends appealing characters, atmospheric setting, and historical detail. The combination of a lighthouse and a library makes for a great setting for any story. But a library in a lighthouse? Even better! Whether writing as Eva Gates or Vicki Delany, this author delivers wonderful cozy mysteries.
I love how creative license comes into play, as the author shares that the actual lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks barely contains room for stairs, much less a library and living quarters. How wonderfully creative is the lighthouse library, Lucy’s living quarters, a children’s playground outside that mimics the repair work being done on the base of the lighthouse. And it is in the midst of these repairs that a case containing historical documents dating back to the Civil War is discovered. Unforeseen events are set into motion as a myriad of people want to be involved. And this assortment of often quirky people - city officials, police officers, library staff, historians, educators, construction workers, and Charlie, the library cat - provides some hilarious scenes.
Readers of this series will enjoy reconnecting with the characters and there are plenty of suspects with possible motives for the body discovered in the library. Lucy is an appealing protagonist and I enjoyed the first-person voice of her step-by-step investigation, as well as her romantic relationship with the mayor. The writing flows smoothly and is completely clean. The mystery itself is well crafted and the various methods of code breaking are fascinating. I especially enjoyed the historical detail, family history dating back 150 years, and the secondary theme of the Freedman's Colony. This story stands alone, but reading the series in order will give a much better sense of the recurring characters.
Read and Buried thoroughly entertains and I recommend it to all cozy mystery fans.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy.
She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.
Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.