Murder by Definition

Severn House. (42nd Street Library Mysteries, Bk. 4). Dec. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9780727850898. $29.99. M
Raymond Ambler, curator of the crime-fiction collection at New York City’s 42nd Street Library, puts the library in a difficult position when he wants to purchase five boxes of author Will Ford’s personal papers. Ford has a reputation as a drunk and scandalous womanizer. The news of the library’s planned purchase brings out women’s groups to protest, so the 42nd Street Library is forced to strike their big celebratory event for Ford and replace it with a quiet reception. Despite the trouble he’s already caused, Ray can’t resist digging into the truth behind one of Ford’s unpublished stories that was supposedly based on an actual incident in New York City 30 years earlier, when a corrupt plainclothes cop allegedly murdered two people and got off scot-free. Ford insists that story might get him killed if it surfaces, but Ray decides to investigate the truth behind it with the help of NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove and bartender Brian McNulty. Ford turns out to be right, as the investigation into the cold case leads to two more murders and the attempted murder of one of Ray’s friends, leaving him to wonder what compels him to meddle in murder cases.
VERDICT Lehane’s complex follow-up to Murder Off the Page will interest fans of the bleak series and readers who enjoy cold-case stories.
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