The Bodies in the Library
by Marty Wingate
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham
#1 First Edition Library Mystery
Penguin Random House Audio
Formats available: Hardcover Paperback, Electronic, Audio
Pub Date: 10.8.19| 9 hours 23 minutes
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
Hayley Burke’s fresh start as the curator of The First Edition Society’s library in Bath, England, is about to take a rotten turn in this charming new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.
Hayley Burke has landed a dream job. She is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling’s former secretary.
Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley’s ideas to modernize The First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight–an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.
But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job. https://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/602710/the-bodies-in-the-library/
Book was provided by publisher. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The title caught my attention first echoing one of Agatha Christie’s best, but then I spotted the series title and the blurb. I was already disposed to fall in love with this new mystery before I ever cracked the first page. First the title, then it’s set in a library focused on the golden age of British mystery which is in Bath, has a library cat, a murder, and the librarian/curator has never read a mystery? Couldn’t pass it up.
The Bodies in the Library started out slow, nearly pedantic, as it introduced Hayley, her situation, the library, the other characters in relation to Hayley including a casual love interest, a grown daughter, her divorce situation, the curmudgeonly trust secretary, the Agatha Christie Fan Fiction writing group, and then we eventually got to the murder.
The opening chapters nearly doused my early enthusiasm as I waited for something to happen knowing I was reading a murder mystery. The victim being found as the body in the library finally got things rolling. Hayley was on thin ice letting the writing group use the library, but now her job is precariously in the balance if she doesn’t get this murder solved and not blackening the library, the benefactress’s good name and the board. Like many cozies, Hayley acknowledges the police’s role in the investigation while taking on her own first-time amateur sleuthing after perusing a mystery for the first time.
I was somewhat more into it with the investigation underway and I got glimpses of modern Bath, modern policing, and some conflict outside Hayley’s internal struggles, but also had some nitpicking moments that drew me away. Hayley got in a snit with boyfriend Val over something I didn’t see as that big of a deal. Not a fan of drama for drama’s sake even if it was brief. I also found it tough to believe she majored in 17th century lit from the get go let alone by the end when it didn’t come up much with her. Oddly, I found it easy to believe she was curating a book collection from the Golden Age of British Mystery and hadn’t read a blessed one of them- my sense of humor kicked in.
I was well-pleased that the lead character was middle-aged and something of an average person in looks and abilities. The issues with having to start over in a new job, a grown daughter off at university for the first time, and an annoying ex along with her antagonistic relationship with the quirky library board secretary added verisimilitude. Bunter the cat made me smile often and I loved how he inadvertently assisted Hayley on the case.
The mystery had me stumped though there was no shortage of suspects or reasons. The victim was not a surprise. But, when the reveal came, I had to squint in confusion. It was one of those ‘couldn’t get there from here’ moments because I don’t think anyone could have seen that coming the way it was laid out.
Fiona Hardingham was a stellar match for the book as its narrator. I thought she was great at all her voices, genders, and accents even though I pictured Hayley much younger at first based on the voice. It wasn’t a kid voice, but just hadn’t sounded middle-aged to me.
So, I ended up being moderately engaged with this one and would like to keep going with the series now that the introductory book is out of the way and things are established. I’m curious if that wisp of ghostly Lady Fowling will be real or just the imagination and I do like the library and city setting for a promising new series with a strong narrator.
My thanks to Penguin Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.