Murder Checks Out

Crooked Lane. (A Blue Ridge Library Mystery, Bk. 8). Nov. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781639105205. $30.99. M
Library director Amy Muir has a busy holiday season ahead. Her five-year-old twins are in her husband’s production of The Nutcracker; her mother-in-law is coming to stay for a week; and Taylorsford, VA, is celebrating its first Winterfest—but all is not jolly. Blackstone, the company owned by festival chair Wendy Blackstone, is planning a new development in town, and the company has a bad reputation with environmentalists. A group called Environmental Advocates protests at Winterfest, Wendy is snippy to Amy, and she argues with Amy’s brother-in-law Ethan, whose property backs up to the planned development. When Wendy is found dead the next morning, the sheriff looks at Ethan, while Amy uses her research skills to dig into Wendy’s history and finds two problem communities, trouble with family members, and other questionable issues in Blackstone’s past. When Ethan disappears, the sheriff moves him to the top of the suspect list. Now Amy has to juggle holiday preparations with a search for her brother-in-law, and the truth.
VERDICT Fans of Jenn McKinlay’s “Library Lover’s Mysteries” will enjoy Gilbert’s follow-up to Death in the Margins. The charming story balances Christmas and family with a mystery with environmental themes.
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