Saturday, December 9, 2017

ARC Review: A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books
Author: Victoria Gilbert
Series: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017)

Description: Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

My Thoughts: Amy Webber has come home to a small mountain town to live with her aunt after a love affair went wrong. She is now the library director of the Carnegie public library which is underfunded and in need of repair. One day she takes a trip to the Archives and finds the body of a local resident with dementia. Doris Virts has been shot.

Amy, being sensible with a strong sense of what she is good at, leaves the investigation to the local police. She's busy doing her kind of research helping her new neighbor Richard Muir investigate the history of his house. Local legends claim that the original owner was poisoned by his wife who was acquitted of the charges largely because of the efforts of Richard's great-uncle Paul who was a reporter and in love with Eleanora. However, Eleanora disappeared right after her acquittal in 1925 leaving a mystery behind her. Amy is attracted to Richard but is hesitant to start anything with another artistic type. Richard is a dancer and choreographer who is now teaching at Clarion.

Besides the historical research she and Richard are doing, they also get involved in a more contemporary mystery regarding Richard's land which once held an orphanage that suffered a tragedy when the cook and some students died in 1956. Suspicions were that the cook mistakenly included some poisonous mushrooms in her cooking.

There is still another contemporary issue. Town leaders are trying to sell some land for development despite various protests including one organized by Amy's best friend and library assistant Sunny. All of these plot threads come together as old family secrets and rivalries are discovered and another murder is committed. Amy even learns some secrets about her own family in the course of the investigation.

I liked Amy and Richard's romance. I liked the way they worked together on their research. I thought that the town politics and relationships were well-done. There were a number of possible suspects but I will admit that I didn't pick the right one when I was trying to figure out the killer. But then neither did Amy which led to traumatic things happening to her.

This was an engaging mystery with great characters and a nicely complex plot. There is even a possibility that ghosts are involved.

Favorite Quote:
Maybe he wanted it to look like a theft gone wrong...

You're not a detective, Amy, even if you know some investigative techniques. You shouldn't be speculating on things without facts.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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