Published: October 8, 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Hard cover from publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina firstname.lastname@example.org
Hayley Burke has landed her dream job as the new curator of the famed Lady Georgiana Fowling's First Edition library. On top of having her dream job, Hayley has the opportunity to have her own apartment in the late Lady Fowling’s home, Middlebank. What is not to love in a grand old house surrounded by some of the world’s best known books – first editions at that! As part of her mission to bring a fresh look to Lady Fowling’s work and home she allows a group of would-be writers to meet weekly in the library. Life, being what it is, has a few flies in the ointment, or at least in Middlebank.
First of all, there are the would be writers. Agatha Christie fans one and all, but they are bent on writing not just fan fiction, but not exactly your usual fan fiction. No…well-loved characters taking part in a zombie apocalypse just doesn’t fit with Christie or Lady’s Fowling. And then there is Hayley’s co-tenant, Mrs. Woolgar who consistently finds new ways to keep Haley from her mission and to succeed in her job.
Despite their disparate personalities Hayley and Mrs. Woolgar are forced to join forces when one of the writer’s group ends up dead in the library.
I was drawn to the premise of Marty Wingate’s BODIES IN THE LIBRARY, the first book in her new First Edition Library Series—a house dedicated to not only Agatha Christie, but to a host of Golden Age mystery writers. The idea of Middlebank with the apartments for both Hayley and Mrs. Woolgar set the stage for some interesting activities in this and future books.
I never really warmed up to Hayley as a character. It could have been the wobbly venture into the love triangle cozy mysteries seem to devolve into these days. She came across like a bit of a doormat constantly giving into the absent boyfriend with his robot. She just went along with whatever was happening with her.
Mrs. Woolgar is your classic “gothic housekeeper”. While this is a cozy mystery and not a gothic, Mrs. Woolgar’s character was actually likeable in the sense that she was a character you love to dislike. The character reminded me of the Cloris Leachman housekeeper in Young Frankenstein and I enjoyed her scenes.
Except for Val I didn’t care much for any of the other characters.
Speaking of the love triangle. A few years ago either the cozy authors on the whole or publishers decided to add these annoying love triangles to cozy mysteries. They aren’t ménages. If I want to read a romance I’ll pick up a romance. I read cozies for the quirky situations and characters and having those love triangles just takes away from the story. BODIES IN THE LIBRARY would have stood on its own just fine without the absentee boyfriend showing up for a quick lay and then going about his business. And for Hayley not to call him on it was just wrong.
The other thing that is annoying me in cozies these days is the push to be inclusive of all the Title VII categories. I’m all for inclusion. I think it’s important in these days to try to include as many diverse groups as possible. But when diverse populations are put in just to look inclusive and not move the story along it annoys me. Hayley deciding that two of the characters are gay and should be a couple did nothing to move the story along and seemed to basically be there to look inclusive.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.
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