MYSTERY

The Bodies in the Library

Berkley Prime Crime. (First Edition Library, Bk. 1). Oct. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781984804105. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781984804129. M
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A degree in 19th-century literature doesn’t really qualify Hayley Burke to be the curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition Library in Bath, England. Lady Fowling’s prized first editions are actually locked up, but there are numerous examples of Golden Age mysteries in the library at Middlebank House—books by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh. Hayley hasn’t read any of them. However, when a member of a small writing group is found dead in the library, she brushes up on her Christie. What would Miss Marple do to investigate the death? Hayley’s suspects include the writers, Lady Fowling’s lout of a nephew who wants to challenge the will, even the cleaning lady. She’s lucky the police would rather listen to her fumbling suggestions than deal with the author group.
VERDICT The heroine of this new series from Wingate (“Potting Shed” series) is a pushover for anyone with more confidence, including her daughter, her boyfriend, the secretary at the library, and the writers. Owing to her lack of knowledge and insecurity, the book feels too long. Fans of Golden Age mysteries would do better to read the authors themselves.

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