Friday, August 17, 2018

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery #1)

Author:  Allison Brook
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781683313861; 9781683317265; 9781538452226
Crooked Lane Books (Blackstone Audio)
336 Pages
11413.97; $15.99; $18.14; $1.20 Amazon
October 10, 2017


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.


Carrie Singleton has returned home to Clover Ridge, Connecticut to live with her aunt and uncle while she's working as a temp in the local library.  When she's unexpectedly offered the position of Programs and Event Coordinator, she's about to turn down the position until she hears a voice tell her to think about it overnight.

She soon finds out the voice is attached to the body of a frail elderly woman named Evelyn Havers.  Evelyn has a slight problem, however; she's a ghost.  It seems she was accidentally killed on library grounds several years ago and the only other person who can see her is a four-year-old named Tacey.  But Carrie soon finds out that Evelyn will be a greater help than she can ever hope for...

Meanwhile, Carrie realizes she needs to put down roots somewhere, and regardless of her past - through no fault of her own but that of her parents - decides that she's much happier around her Uncle Bosco and Aunt Harriet, so endeavors to try and make the job work, but, as her aunt points out, if it doesn't she can always quit.

Her first program guest is one that has been recruited by her predecessor Barbara - Al Buckley, an ex-homicide detective who's been haunted by a case he didn't solve while on the force.  He's speaking to announce that he finally - after fifteen years - knows who killed Laura Foster.  But when the evening arrives that he's going to give his speech, it's apparent that there are people who don't want to know the truth.  Laura's son Ryan arrives and starts threatening Al, and brings along the family attorney just in case.

While speaking, Al seems to have trouble breathing and quickly drops dead.  When it's discovered that he was poisoned while at the library during his speech Carrie realizes that she needs to solve this murder in order to put things right for the library.  She has help from an unlikely source - Laura's younger son Jared, who also wants to find out his mother's murderer.

She also has an enemy at the library - Dorothy Hawkins, a reference librarian who believes the job would have come to her if Carrie's uncle (a library board member) hadn't insisted the director hire Carrie instead.  Carrie's positive that Dorothy's been sabotaging her at every turn, and what's worse, Evelyn is Dorothy's late aunt, who's aware of the most of the shenanigans she's been pulling.

But what's the most disconcerting to Carrie is she unexpectedly finds a cottage to live in that's almost a dream.  It has a view of the river, once weekly housekeeping, a free handyman, and is within her budget.  The owner of the mansion in front of it is the mysterious Dylan Avery, who's not around very often and no one seems to know anything about him.

But when Carrie starts to get too close to the truth, she might not be in her job very long at all if the killer of both Laura and Al has anything to say about it.  In fact, she might not live long enough to decide if she wants to stay in Clover Ridge forever...

This is the first in a series by a new author, and as such, is a decent beginning indeed.  There were, in fact, some things right with this book and some that bothered me, so I'll get that out of the way first:

Nearly every character drinks.  A lot.  All the time.  They drink when they get home from work; they drink with their meals; they have nightcaps.  They have several drinks at restaurants.  Some get ripping drunk...which probably wouldn't bother me so much except they have no trouble driving afterward.  I'm a big believer that if you plan on driving you shouldn't have alcoholic beverages - not even one.  It's dangerous, and puts others at risk just because you're behind the wheel.  (However, I have noticed a trend that it's more prevalent where people drink and drive in books that take place on the East Coast, while not so much anywhere else.  Curious, indeed).  Well, enough of the PSA.

She knows that the victim's son Jared thinks they're dating (and so does everyone else), but never seems to 'find the right time' to tell him they're not, thereby hurting him when he does find out.  It seems callous on her part.  She should have told him immediately that she only wanted to be friends, and not accepted so many family dinner invitations!  It bothered me that it appeared for all intents that she was going to start a relationship with him, but the minute she met Dylan she made excuses - and there also were excuses "discovered" why she shouldn't.  So, if another cute guy shows up when Dylan's out of town, will she dump him?  Plus, it's pretty much a non-romance.  At this point in her life you'd think she'd want a guy who would be around enough to actually do something with; not some 'mysterious' childhood playmate that she hadn't seen in years and rarely comes home.  Who would want that?

This library somehow has tons of funds to do all kinds of things our libraries don't do - and we have over 25 of them here!  Cooking demonstrations?  (And only charging $5 a person to boot).  It didn't seem realistic at all.  What library has the facilities or inclination for this?  Where are they going to put the cooking station?  You'd need proper ventilation or the entire library will smell like various cooking scents.  Very odd indeed.

There also weren't any descriptions of the town.  She described her cottage, but that's about it.  We learned what she ate and where she ate, but nothing else.  What types of businesses are in town?  How old is the town?  What does the library look like?  I also got tired of the fact that she was wearing tights and leggings everywhere, and dressing Goth at thirty but calling others juvenile and dim-witted.  Really?

Carrie also seemed a little spineless for my taste.  She didn't want to tell Jared she didn't like him 'that way.'  She didn't tell people 'no' that she wanted to; she didn't even  go to her director when Dorothy was bothering her, thinking she could take care of it herself.  Well, she couldn't, could she?  She needed the help of resident ghost Evelyn to do that.  She just didn't seem very mature for her age, but complained that Jared wasn't mature for his age.  Double standard?

Which brings to the fore that Evelyn wasn't in the book much at all.  It's touted as A Haunted Library Mystery but the ghost is rarely in the book.  She shows up to help Carrie a couple of times on library business, but doesn't help her when it's really needed to save time and effort.  How strange is that?  I would have liked to have seen more of her in the book.

However, I did like the idea that Carrie actually wears makeup instead of putting on 'a little lip gloss' and thinking she's ready for the day.  More women wear makeup than not, and it's finally nice to see an author who realizes this.  It might seem minor to some, but every female I know wears makeup so I find it disheartening that in most cozies they seem to think the aforementioned lip gloss makes them "hot".

I did like the idea it takes place at Halloween and the library cat, although if she takes him home at night he's pretty much her cat that she brings to work; still, it's nice that he's been added, albeit lately, to the book.  Which brings us to the fact that I knew who the killer was right away (it was pretty obvious from the get go) but it wasn't enough to keep me from reading the book.  I like to see how the MC comes to their conclusions as they find clues along the way.

Hopefully when the second in this series comes along the author will have honed the characters a bit more, given Carrie a backbone and have her less judgmental, give Evelyn a bigger part, and not make the killer so obvious.  If these things are attended to, this series can go on for quite awhile indeed.  As I said, I would have given it more stars but I really do not like the drinking and driving and hope that in future books someone will have sense enough to become a designated driver.


More on Allison Brook's Books:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dance of the Scarecrows (A Jonathan Wilder Mystery #1)

Author:  Ray Sipherd Genre:   Mystery Hardcover; Paperback; ISBN #:  9780312143060; 9780373262878 Worldwide Mystery 252 Pages Various...