Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Miss Zukas and the Library Murders

Author:  Jo Dereske
Genre:  Mystery

Two Stars
Meet Miss Zukas . . . the very proper, exceedingly conscientious, and relentlessly curious local librarian of tiny Bellehaven, Washington--and one heck of an amateur sleuth! The Bellehaven police are baffled when a dead body turns up right in the middle of the library's fiction stacks. But Miss Helma Zukas--who never fails to make note of the slightest deviation from the norm of everyday life--is not willing to let this rather nasty disruption stand. Her precious literary sanctuary has been violated, and if the local law cannot get to the bottom of this case, Miss Zukas certainly intends to--with the help of her not-so-proper best friend, Ruth, a six-foot-tall bohemian artist with a nose for gossip and a penchant for getting into trouble. But their research project is bringing them a little too close to a killer . . . who'd like nothing better than to write Helma and Ruth out of the story completely!  (From the book).
The following review MIGHT contain spoilers, but everything I am writing you will learn almost immediately in this book.  I know I wasn't going to write spoilers, but if I don't do so in this case, you won't be able to understand why I didn't care for the book.  If you wish to read it at some later date, please do not read on.  That being said: 
The book is okay as far as the mystery, which is why I gave it 2 stars. However, the main character (Miss Zukas) is completely unlikeable. She is a librarian, only 36, but a prissy woman who acts like she is 90. She doesn't like anything about anyone; she makes disparaging remarks about her co-workers, and she can't understand why she is friends with Ruth (supposedly her best friend). These two are SO different, you can't imagine them as even wanting to spend time with each other. The friend is a slob, a drunk, and (shall I say it) a slut.
The reason it doesn't make sense is because Miss Zukas is SO perfect - her apartment is perfect (after 14 years of living there?????) no gossip, smiling, anything out of place, etc; that someone like Ruth should horrify her. She doesn't even have any conversations with anyone that aren't somehow related back to the library. Everything she thinks reminds her she 'needs to look it up at the library'. She even formulates a thought that she didn't move into a certain apartment building because 'they allowed families with children." So she even dislikes children, and pets, since she makes a point of stating she lives in a 'pet-free' building, and thinks of possibly 'turning in a neighbor" because they MIGHT have a pet.

She "looks down" on everyone and everything, including her own mother, whom she barely tolerates. She also has no social life, no other friends (understandable), no answering machine because she "doesn't want to be disturbed during dinner", so if the phone rings, she ignores it. It appears she is so self-centered and selfish, that she is the only one that matters in life. (I spend my life trying to avoid these types of people).

It appears that Miss Zukas is an opinionated, bigoted egotist, and has no endearing or redeeming qualities, and I will probably not read any others in the series.

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