by Allison Brook
#1 Haunted Library Mystery
Crooked Lane Books
Formats available: Hardback, Electronic, Audio
Pub Date: 10.10.17| Pages: 336
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
E-ARC provided by Net Galley for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
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.
Now it’s due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue, the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.
by Sophia Rose
I was looking for seasonal reads and came across this first in series cozy mystery that includes a ghost and a librarian detective set during the Autumn in small town New England. It seemed a good fit and I willingly picked it up.
Overall, I found Death Overdue a moderately engaging book. I enjoyed the mystery, the settings and activities, and found the surrounding cast of characters pleasant.
After the introduction to the story and then the murder, I was conscious of the pace until nearly the end as the book meandered through Carrie’s work at the library, interactions with friendly as well as ‘mean girl’ library workers, family times with her cute uncle and aunt as well as the set up for not one, but two handsome guys interested in her.
It was interesting that there was a deep backstory for the main character, Carrie. I enjoyed the author taking her time to do this. Carrie had a tough childhood which has made her a drifter type and distant from her own family and everyone else. This lifestyle of hopping from job to job and place to place allows her to stay disengaged so she can avoid anyone learning her past or getting close. Death Overdue opens with her as the tenuous Prodigal come home to stay with her great aunt and uncle who talk her into sticking around for a while and taking a permanent job at the library.
The mystery was two-part. There is a recent murder that is tied to a past murder. I figured out the who and the why as soon as I had enough pieces though I must say that it was still a decently developed murder mystery plot with a colorful group of characters to suspect. There was a big climax scene that had me flipping pages quickly.
A few of her conclusions and actions made the heroine the iffy part for me. I was none too impressed over several things.
- Carrie starts out on the outs with her boss and some others and tends to see it as their problem, but, she was bringing it on herself to a certain extent. For example, she can’t figure out that she’s in a professional job and resents being told to dress professionally by her boss. She doesn’t see her own standoffish ‘rebel’ goth girl attitude has led to her boss reluctant to trust her with the job.
- Then later as the story progresses, she chooses to suppress evidence she finds just because, shocker, the police choose not to take a total stranger with little to do with the case and no experience with investigation into their confidence and this makes her mad.
- She also chooses to get resentful when her friend shares what she finds with his family (and this is their mother who is the object of her investigation that she wants him to keep quiet about). Later, I was uncomfortable that, without permission, she has no problem reading through the dead woman’s journal. I felt she should have done one of two things- give it to the family or to the police, but not sit down and read what was really none of her business to keep or read without permission. I’ll give some allowance that she found the thing in a place that she legitimately had access to.
- She manages to figure out early on that she is putting one of the men in the friend zone, but waits until much later and never tells him while going out over and over again with him. She gives him an abrupt brush off before dashing off to be with the other guy. Not cool.
- Let’s not forget a few dumb decisions that get another person hurt and, on another occasion, nearly gets her and Jared killed.
So… yes, I struggled with the heroine, but also saw her grow a great deal so that she changed how she was at work and with being more sociable while acknowledging where she messes up. Seeing her acknowledge and change behaviors went a long way toward winning me back. I hope she does better as an amateur sleuth who can work with law enforcement and I’m glad that the potential love triangle bit was dealt with.
The seasonal element was light, but still a nice flavor in the background. Autumn activities, fall holidays, and a delightful library ghost who helps Carrie around the library and with the case.
I liked rather than loved this one. I definitely enjoyed the setting and several elements so I will continue on with the series. Cozy mystery fans who don’t mind a bit of the paranormal and enjoy a New England small town and library setting should pick this one up.