Tuesday, January 26, 2016



Publisher:     Berkley
Published:     January 27, 2015
ISBN:       978-0425257296
Genre:      Cozy Mystery
Format:    Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com



While working at his part-time job in the library of Athena College one afternoon the Mayor drops by with something special for Charlie Harris.  Among the original residents of Athena, the Longs have long supported the college.  This time the Mayor comes with a set of four diaries from her family’s ancestor, Rachel Long, dating back to the civil war.  No sooner has Mayor Long departed from Charlie’s office when he approached not by one but two people demanding…not asking but demanding…to see the diaries.  One is determined to obtain tenure at the college no matter what and is certain the diaries are the way there.  The other is running for political office and his campaign is certain they will affect the outcome.  In a delicate balancing act of trying to meet everyone’s needs…and demands…Charlie contacts the Mayor to see what she wants to do but before he can follow her direction one of the involved parties turns up dead.  On top of that, other things happen that may or may not be related to the crime. 

Another diary turns up while at the same time a memoir goes missing.  Charlie is not without his resources though and he turns to some of the town’s most notable, long time citizens.  Their stories, however, raise more questions than answers.  Can Charlie find the killer before the killer finds another victim? 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Miranda James’s Cat in the Stacks Series from the very beginning.  His latest, ARSENIC AND OLD BOOKS is by far the best one yet.  James really and truly out-writes James in this one.  While he’s always been a good writer there was a shift in this one that made for a tighter read.  It’s still James’s voice—just even better. 

Diesel has been, and continues to be, my favorite character in the book.  As much as I like Charlie, Diesel does steal the show.  James does a super job of portraying cat behaviour. That said, Charlie’s development over the books has been nicely done, especially with his developing relationship with Helen Louise.  I like that he hasn’t gone down the road of the “love triangle” that we’re starting to see more and more of in cozy mysteries.  As a “cozy purist” in my own way that kind of romance ploy has no place in a cozy.  Editors, publishers, agents and the authors that might write them may disagree but sticking to the story and series serves Miranda James really well.

The mystery in this one was nicely done.  The excerpts from Rachel’s diary were well placed and appeared in just the right places to keep the reader interested. 

This is definitely one to add to your TBR.  This series does not have to be read in order to enjoy the individuals books, but if you are looking for a series with every book a good read this is definitely the one to read.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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