A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Line Mystery. Gilbert, Victoria. Crooked Lane.
A mystery set in a small town can be perfect. There’s something about the same people being around each other for decades that adds an Agatha Christie, trapped-in-a-mansion-with-a-killer motif to even tales set in the quaintest environs. (Perhaps, especially those.) In Victoria Gilbert’s modern take on village sleuthing, A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Line Mystery (Crooked Lane, $26.99, ISBN 9781683314394), Amy Webber is a librarian who lives with her elderly aunt in a rambling old house in Taylorsford, Virginia. (Librarians should note that, despite the book’s slightly clichéd title, the small library featured here—and Amy’s role in it—rings true, which is unsurprising as author Gilbert is a librarian.) Amy’s life is as you’d expect—busy workdays and evenings spent gardening and passing the time with neighbors and family. She’s also slowly getting over smarmy ex-boyfriend Charles, whom she’s starting to realize is better off in her past. But all is not well. Under the town’s placid surface, old resentments and wrongdoings fester, and the polite pretensions that keep them hidden can’t be maintained when there’s a murder at the library. The investigation that ensues happily causes Amy to have more interaction with a handsome new neighbor, but mostly it causes tongues to wag and the town’s rifts to deepen. Can Amy find out who committed the murder without jeopardizing those that she loves? Is her new romance a good idea or is she just asking for more heartbreak? And perhaps most puzzling of all, who was behind a notorious crime in the town’s history, one that has rumors still swirling? Gilbert keeps readers wondering till the tale’s rewarding conclusion, one that they will not see coming and that will leave them wanting more from the author; more is on the way, with the second book in the series slated for July 2018. Until then, pick up some of the books in Elizabeth Kate Buzzelli’s Little Library Mystery series, also published by Crooked Lane. IndiePicks Magazine
Amy Webber, the narrator of Gilbert’s captivating first novel and series launch, escaped an embarrassing end to her last job and romance by returning to her ancestral family home in insular Taylorsford, Va., where she is now the town librarian. Amy’s next door neighbor is the handsome, forthright, and single Richard Muir, a classically trained dancer and college instructor, who inherited an old house that once belonged to his late great-uncle, novelist Paul Dassin. According to town gossip, the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, Eleanora Cooper, with whom Paul was in love. Eleanora was acquitted of the crime, then disappeared. Richard asks Amy to assist in his research to clear Eleanora’s name. Amy and Richard’s discovery of a body in the public library archive building puts them on a path leading toward terrifying family secrets—and solutions to both past and present murders. Cozy fans will look forward to seeing more of the appealing Amy. Agent: Frances Black, Literary Counsel. (Dec.)