Book Review│Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brooks

stacksWith the third installment of The Haunted Library Mysteries, Buried in the Stacks opens with our favorite librarian, Carrie Singleton, juggling the growing problem of the homeless taking shelter in the library and a new murder.

The Murder of a Rival

Carrie has been thrown into the role of Sunshine Delegate for the library. Her first task is to visit her rival, Dorothy, a fellow research librarian who is recovering from a fall. During her visit, Carrie is shocked to find out that Dorothy believes that it is her husband that is responsible for her fall. She is claiming that he pushed her. Even stranger, she is also claiming that it was her husband that caused the death of her Aunt Evelyn several years before. Aunt Evelyn is the haunted library’s resident ghost. Dorothy eventually recovers from her injuries and returns to work, but upon her return home, she is killed in a car accident. Ghost Aunt Evelyn begs Carrie to uncover who killed her niece as well as who responsible for her death.

A Quest for Warmth

The Haunted Library is in Clover Ridge, CT which means, it is in a part of the United States that is frigid when winter comes. For Carrie, this also means that a large population of homeless people are using the library as a refuge from the February frost. Some of the homeless are loud and disruptive which is causing the patrons of the library to not want to come in or bring in their children for the programs that they are offering. Carrie is excited when a vacant house is purchased to turn into a retreat for the homeless but is quickly disheartened when she learns that the committee in charge of rehabbing the house is not on the up and up.

A Cozy Mystery

As with any cozy mystery, there is a bevy of storylines that transgress the pages. In Buried in the Stacks, we have the homeless plotline, the murder of Dorothy (and Evelyn), Angela’s wedding where Carrie is her maid of honor, the search for Smokey Joe and of course, the interference of the library’s resident cat. There is a lot going on in this book and a lot to keep straight as you read your way through it, however, that is what I always have loved about books like this. Cozy mysteries offer a plethora of loveable characters that are in crazy situations with several subplots and big life changes going their way. Buried in the Stacks delivers all of this and more. What I especially love about this series is the addition of the haunted library. I enjoyed how Ghost Evelyn and Carrie worked together to talk out the mystery, shares clues and uncover secrets. It was an element that was unique to this book and series.

Book Information

Buried in the Stacks: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook from Crooked Lane Books is scheduled to be released on September 10, 2019, with ISBN 9781643851389. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was received from the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link above!

Book Review│And Then They Were Doomed by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

andthentheyweredoomedAs a middle school language arts teacher by day, one of my favorite authors to teach is Agatha Christie. The kids get so into it even though the language and time are dated because Christie is such a master at weaving together a mystery and making you think it is someone when the twist at the end is someone entirely different that you often either never thought of or even forgot about as the story went on. Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli borrows many Christie references that weave this cozy, dark mystery through its pages.

A Mysterious Letter

If you are a fan of And Then There Were None, you know that 10 strangers receive an invitation from the mysterious Owens’ to enjoy a long weekend on Solider Island, a luxurious residence that stands alone on an island. None of them have anything in common other than having been involved with murder and gotten away with it. Slowly, they are killed one by one until there is only one of them left. So, when author Zoe Zola receives a letter edged in black inviting her to an Agatha Christie symposium at an old Upper Peninsula hunting lodge, she is a little bit spooked especially when she realizes that she has been invited by a Ms. Emily Brent. In Christie’s novel, Emily Brent was an old pious spinster who drove her maid to suicide when she found out that the girl was pregnant. Zola goes anyway, eager to find out the mystery behind the letter and what is about to unfold at the old hunting lodge.

10 Little Christie Scholars…

Much like Christie’s And Then There Were None, 10 Christie Scholars appear on the Peninsula. Each one has an eerie resemblance or some similarity to one of the people from Christie’s novel. For instance, some of their names are the same or similar or even more strangely, just sound like one of the characters from Christie’s book. All the guests assemble for dinner and their first lecture. Here, Zoe notices that there are figurines of children around the floral centerpieces only they are not as innocent as they appear because each represents a line from the famous poem that the killer uses in And Then There Were None  to kill each of their victims:

soldier boys

And much like Buzzelli’s source material, Zoe soon finds that each night brings about a new disappearance of a guest and she must find a way to survive long enough to get herself off the Peninsula. She immediately calls her friend Jenny Weston for help, only, Jenny has to wait out the storm over Lake Superior before she can get to her friend. Zoe must use her wits to keep herself safe until help arrives. As she waits, Zoe’s story unfolds and the secrets of her own past and of her family’s are brought to light.

This dark cozy mystery is a fast read and if you love Agatha Christie, you will surely love, And Then They Were Doomed the fourth installment of the Little Library Mysteries.

Book Information

And Then They Were Doomed by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is scheduled to be released on August 13, 2019 with ISBN 9781643850009 from Crooked Lane Books. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic copy from the publisher that was given in exchange for this review.

For special pre-ordering pricing, snag your copy here —–> https://amzn.to/30OjzQl

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris: Book Review

The following originally appeared on my former book review column in May, 2010:

dead in the famThe latest installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series gives Eric Northman fans a completely different view of the Nordic vampire.

On May 4, 2010 Ace Hardcover released the latest installment of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, Dead in the Family. Charlaine Harris concluded her last book of the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead and Gone in 2009, with a huge cliff-hanger that could change everything that readers have been accustom to up until now.

In the aftermath of the Fae War that dominated Dead and Gone, Sookie’s great grandfather informs her that he is sealing off the world of the fae from the humans. No fairies will pass into the world, including him. In leaving, her tells her to go easy on the vampire, that he is a good man and that he loves her. He is gone before she can ask which vampire he refers to. Both vampires had come to her aid in the attacks against her family, and Bill had pledged his undying love to her, but exchanges between Eric and Sookie suggest that there has been much left off the page that will be explained in the future.

Relationships in Dead in the Family

Charlaine Harris opens Dead in the Family shortly after the Fae War. Many characters, including Sookie are still recovering from the attacks and even torture that they underwent during the war. Sookie and Eric are together, and he often reminds her that she is married to him despite her arguing that it had been a trick and that it only held ground in the vampire world. There are several rather touching and telling scenes between the two within the opening of the book which begs the question, is Eric the vampire that Sookie’s great grandfather was talking about in last year’s book?

Harris is not giving anything away though, at least not in the opening passages. Bill Compton is still living across the graveyard and at Sam’s urging, Sookie does go to see him. He is still suffering from silver-poisoning and again, in a moment that only Harris can deliver, Bill opens up to Sookie and tells her everything he has been holding back. Vampire Bill fans will not be disappointed either, but again, Harris is going to keep this contest for Sookie’s heart on a tight, neck-and-neck race.

Difference From Earlier Books

What is most notably different about Dead in the Family in comparison to other books in the series is the overall tone of the book. Though the subject matter of Harris’ books are often dark, Dead in the Family lacks the sort of upbeat frivolity that moves the earlier installments along. Sookie is depressed and clearly lost after confronting her own mortality in Dead and Gone. It seems that her cheerful, sunny innocent disposition is gone and what readers get is a more realistic woman who is trying to figure everything out outside of the ideal.

It is this mind-set that sets the tone and keeps much of the action a bit slow-building, but once Harris reaches her peak, the reader is off into a rich world of the supernatural and all of the politics that go along with it. Other notable characters such as Sookie’s newly taken brother, Jason, Alcide the Were, Claude the Fae and even Dermot who has some pretty surprising secrets of his own.

Back Story in Dead in the Family

Lastly, what is rather interesting in Dead in the Family is a lot of the back story that comes out about many of the main characters that readers have fallen in love with over the course of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Readers will learn about how the mysterious Eric became who he is and just who made him, they will also learn a more in-depth version of just how Lorena found Bill and made him into a vampire and they will also get a first-hand glimpse into Sookie’s supernatural side of the family.

Overall, Charlaine Harris’ Dead in the Family could be seen as a turning point for the series. There are many more questions and facts that are raised that change what has come before. Both new readers and old fans of the series will not be disappointed with this latest installment.

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris is available for purchase through Ace Hardcover with ISBN 0441018645.