Early Book Review: A Murder for the Books (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries) by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books is the first book in the Blue Ridge Library Mysteries series by Victoria Gilbert. It is currently scheduled for release on December 12 2017. 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.

A Murder for the Books is a mystery that both made me happy and frustrated me. As a librarian I was thrilled with the detailed view that was offered of Amy's librarian skills, and path to the career. Her commentary on search skills and research was on point; as was her facing down budget issues, patron issues, and condescending stereotypes. I was not thrilled with the comment "librarians are in demand" because I know far too many great librarians in several fields that have been searching for years for a full time library job- including those willing to move anywhere and are currently juggling multiple part time jobs just to make ends meet.  It happen early in the book, and colored my read for a bit, but thankfully the writing style and story overcame that after a bit.

With that being said, I liked Amy for the most part. She is smart and independent, however her insecurity and body issues irked me. My biggest issue with her was her concern with how others viewed her, but I did like that for the most part she dressed how she wanted rather than always heeding those opinions. I think Richard was a good character, but I found him to be a bit too perfect. I enjoyed Amy's aunt and the quirkier residents of the town to be much more entertaining and interesting. To be perfectly honest, I will admit to expecting a bigger betrayal or twist, but did not see the full extent of the conclusion coming at all. There were just so many twists, and I liked that just when readers think everything is settled more pops up to take it to another level. I think at some point it might have gotten too complicated, but it kept me on my toes and turning pages well past my bedtime.

A Murder for the Books is a great start to a series, although I wonder who might be dead in subsequent books. I liked the characters, and the layers to the mystery, and solution. I think it might have gotten a little too twisty and complicated for readers looking for a more cozy read. 

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