Book Review and Blog Tour: The Library Murders by Merryn Allingham

Book: The Library Murders
Author: Merryn Allingham
Pub Day: February 20, 2024 
Buy Link: Amazon

Book Description:

Bookshop owner and amateur detective Flora Steele and her fiancé, crime writer Jack Carrington, discover words can kill as they solve their most puzzling case yet…

It’s a sunny morning in Abbeymead as Flora cycles through the village and knocks on the door of the local library, planning to deliver a gift to librarian Maud Frobisher to mark her retirement. But Flora is shocked when she finds Maud slumped in the corner, and even more startled when she recognises the man holding the murder weapon – an enormous hardback book.

Flora’s known Lowell Gracey since her college days, but what is he doing working for Maud and now the main suspect in her murder? Suspicion mounts when Flora and Jack discover that Lowell is heavily in debt, and that a priceless rare first edition has recently gone missing, but Lowell is adamant that he’s innocent, and Flora believes him.

The pair are once more drawn into an investigation, but who would kill a beloved librarian?Perhaps Rose Lawson, a mysterious newcomer to Abbeymead known to be in dire financial straits? Or pompous bestselling author Felix Wingrave, who rumours say would do anything to get his hands on a valuable book for his collection?

Then the village is rocked by the discovery of a second body. Flora and Jack realise a vital clue lies in the pages of a novel – but the plot is thickening and the killer is closing in…

Flora and Jack are determined to solve this fiendish case by the book – but will this be the end of their story?

A completely page-turning and addictive cozy crime mystery. Fans of Agatha Christie, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis will adore this unputdownable series!

Jack has been roped into serving as an organizer of a crime writers’ conference coming to Abbeymead, of all places. Basil Webb, who runs the Dirk and Dagger Society, has high hopes for the conference. Jack isn’t thrilled about his role in it, but Flora hopes she’ll turn a tidy profit selling books by participating authors. Things turn ugly, though, when Flora finds family friend and librarian Maud Frobisher coshed in the head in the mobile library van. One possible clue is the open safe in the van, with the rare first edition it had presumably held gone.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I just love Merryn Allingham’s Flora Steele series. I adore the Abbeymead setting. I feel like the residents are old friends, and every new book gives me a chance to catch up with them. Maud’s death hurt my heart, I tell you.

And who would have wanted her dead? The first edition she had was presumably worth a lot of money, and as the story unfolds, Allingham gives us several possible suspects who might have been willing to kill to make a profit. The police focus on Lowell Gracey, though. He’s an old school friend of Flora’s who’s been working with Maud. Since he’s found in the mobile van with a heavy, bloodied book in his hand, the evidence does seem stacked against him. Flora isn’t convinced of his guilt, and it’s here that she and Jack disagree.

Unlike previous books where Flora and Jack work together to solve the mystery, Lowell’s presence and status as number one suspect pushes them apart. They each approach the mystery here from different angles, and as it happens, those different lines of inquiry bring them back to working together before the end of the book.

Other than the mystery, there’s a lot in this book! Charlie Teague is growing up and engaging in surprising new pursuits. Flora’s friends are gung-ho to plan her wedding to Jack. And Flora and Jack both receive unexpected and interesting news that could impact their future together. (I didn’t say it would be a negative impact!) With all those threads plus a solution to the crime that I didn’t see coming right away, this was another delightful visit to Abbeymead. Maybe we’ll be going to a wedding in the next book in the series!

Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for an advance copy. I was not obligated to write a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband and one last cat, Bluebell. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.

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