MYSTERY

Murder Off the Page

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (42nd Street Library, Bk. 3). Nov. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781250317926. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250317933. M
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Lehane’s third “42nd Street Library” mystery (after Murder in the Manuscript Room) has crime fiction librarian Raymond Ambler and his friends in adventures that are almost too well-suited for said librarian in New York City. Raymond helps Shannon Darling with the personal papers of mystery author Jayne Galloway, but soon Shannon goes missing, along with Raymond’s friend Brian, after a man is murdered in her hotel room. Then Shannon turns up dead, and Brian begs Raymond to investigate. Raymond pegs “Shannon” as Connecticut-based dermatologist Sandra Dean and soon has to clear his friend’s name as a suspect in her murder. Parts of the story read as library fan fiction, while others as a cozy mystery in the big city, switching between ingenious schemes and unbelievable developments.
VERDICT Lehane successfully manufactures drama and intrigue and offers up plausible red herrings, surprising readers as often as bewildering them with questionable character choices, but this quick read is mostly for patrons who enjoy modern murder mysteries and can withstand some well-worn tropes and stereotypes. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/19.]

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