★ Word to the Wise
A mystery set in a library just feels right. Jenn McKinlay’s newest Library Lover’s Mystery, Word to the Wise, lets the comfort of a familiar location set up a truly creepy premise. Library director Lindsey Norris is busy with her job and happily planning her wedding. The attention of a patron who is new in town seems odd but innocuous, but it quickly becomes clear that Aaron Grady is a stalker. The more Lindsey learns about Aaron, the more she begins to doubt her own gut; she knows something feels wrong, but is she overreacting? When his body is found on library property, the killing appears to have been set up to incriminate Sully, Lindsey’s fiancé. To clear Sully’s name, she’ll have to dig into Aaron’s past, bringing herself into the killer’s orbit. McKinlay lets the first third of the story breathe, effectively ramping up the tension. Once Aaron is out of the picture, the pace picks up as the search for the killer intensifies, and the conclusion is a wild ride indeed.
Halloween in Salem is a bit like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Chaos reigns, and the streets are a mess, but everyone has a good time. Late Checkout finds Lee Barrett losing hours at her TV news gig just as things get busy for the holiday. She volunteers at the library to pass the time and almost immediately finds a dead body in the stacks. It’s a big scoop, and with the help of her Aunt Ibby, Lee begins to research the victim. There are interesting forays into the work of running a small TV station and appearances by Lee’s charming and possibly clairvoyant cat. Author Carol J. Perry juggles these details with finesse and moves the plot toward a creepy conclusion that adds a few shivers to this cozy.
A Golden Grave
In Erin Lindsey’s A Golden Grave, Rose Gallagher should have the world on a string. She’s a Pinkerton agent working with a gorgeous partner—a far cry from her old life as a housekeeper—but that change in status has tested old friendships, and Rose still can’t pass for a society dame. A plot to assassinate New York City mayoral candidate Theodore Roosevelt keeps her hopping among ballrooms, political mixers and Nikola Tesla’s lab, where Mark Twain wisecracks while watching for the next fireball to appear. Lindsey balances history, a budding romance, a dash of paranormal activity and surprising humor. (A scene involving the as-yet-unveiled Statue of Liberty is surreal and hilarious.) In the language of its time, this is a corker.