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Monday, December 18, 2017

Murder for the Books

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series

Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683314394
E-Book ASIN: B072396C2L

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.

What I Thought:

This is the first book in a new series and by a new to me author.  I really enjoyed reading this one as I enjoy books that are set in the state next to the one I live in.  I also like books about libraries.  In this one, there are two mysteries, one that happened in the 1920s and one in the present.  I enjoy books where the characters are trying to solve mysteries from the past.  This was a well-written, fast-paced book that kept my attention from the very beginning.  I thought the plot was believable and I loved the characters in this story.  I that the ending was wonderful and the author kept me guessing till the very end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

About the Author

Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director.
When not writing or reading, Victoria likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, and is represented by Frances Black at Literary Council, NY, NY.
Victoria lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. This is her first Blue Ridge Library mystery.

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Character: Amy Webber from A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS

If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me, “But you don’t look like a librarian,” I’d be able to quit my job as library director for the Taylorsford Public Library tomorrow.

Not that I want to quit my job. It’s just frustrating that after all this time, a lot of people still cling to the stereotypes about librarians. You know—they picture an older woman who pulls her hair into a tight bun and wears staid sweater sets, calf-length skirts, and glasses on a beaded chain.
Of course, this stereotypical librarian is also a spinster with a shapeless figure.

Okay, so I’m thirty-three and single, but that’s the only point of comparison. And let’s be real—no one talks about thirty-somethings being “spinsters” anymore. (At least I hope not). I happen to be rather curvaceous, thank you very much, and I wouldn’t wear a sweater set or dowdy skirt unless my other option was to run around naked. I’m more of a jeans and well-worn concert tee kind of girl. Of course, I must wear more professional clothes at work, but even there I opt for slacks and a simple top. (I admit I hate pantyhose, so I try to avoid skirts or dresses except on special occasions). “Sensible shoes” is the one area where I might fit the stereotype, but even then I prefer sneakers or loafers to pumps.

Actually, I’ve been told that I resemble my great-grandmother, Rose Baker. I guess that’s okay, although I hope I don’t have any trace of her personality. From what I’ve been told, she was quite a b… bad-mannered individual. Here’s a photo of her from back around 1925, when she became embroiled in a sensational murder trial. (She was a witness for the prosecution, not a suspect, as my family always likes to remind me).
Honestly, I don’t see the resemblance, although like my mom, I do have Rose’s dark hair and eyes. Well, I guess I also have the same basic face shape and features. But both mom and I are a lot… curvier.
Anyway, I don’t fit the librarian stereotype, that’s for sure. But then, neither do most librarians I know, many of whom are actually men! Basically, just like everyone else in every other profession, a librarian can be any size, shape, race, or gender.
The other misconception about librarians that drives me a little nuts is that we are all quiet and reserved. This is certainly not the case. Honestly, in the current library environment, which requires extensive patron interaction in person, online, or on the phone, being too much or an introvert can pose problems. You really can’t “hide out” at the library. In fact, librarians are likely to deal with a wider range of personalities, including difficult or troubled people, than many other professions. There’s no sitting quietly reading books in today’s library, at least not for the librarians! We have to reach out and engage with all types of people on a daily basis. We also have to offer literacy programs and homework assistance, lead information sessions and other programs, and even use performance skills to entertain our younger patrons during story times. So if someone is looking for a profession where they don’t interact with people very much, a library career is not the best fit.
We must be tech savvy too. Libraries are one of the few places where the public can freely use the internet, so we have to be prepared to offer technical help as well as research assistance. Also, despite the media’s tendency to depict card catalogs, they have been replaced by online catalog and circulation systems, even in the smallest libraries.
So don’t be surprised that I don’t look or act like a librarian—or at least not like the old-fashioned shy, bespectacled, spinster sitting behind a desk shushing people. The truth is, I doubt you’d find one of those types in any library today. In fact, I’d bet you’re more likely to see a librarian with piercings and tattoos than that old stereotype!
I may not look or act like the stereotype, but I definitely have a librarian’s love of research and an insatiable need to solve mysteries of all kinds. Maybe that’s the reason why I’ve found myself helping with some murder inquiries recently…