May Day by Jess Lourey

Mira James has had issues with small towns in the past but when she’s fired from her job, flashed by a guy hawking guitar pedals AND finds her boyfriend in bed with the neighbor (all in the same day), the small town of Battle Lake  suddenly looks more promising than Minneapolis.  With her English major background, Mira’s able to secure an Assistant Librarian position and a part-time reporter job.  When archaeologist Jeff Wilson strolls through the library doors, it seems that fate is finally smiling upon her.  Unfortunately, she finds him dead between the reference stacks a few days later.

While the police conduct their investigation, Mira looks for her own answers.  Was Jeff murdered because of his work with a developer planning to build a tourist attraction in Battle Lake?  Was he murdered because of something that happened in high school?  As Mira uncovers some of the small town’s dirty secrets, someone watches and waits, knowing that the librarian will eventually have to be shushed.

May Day is the first entry in the Murder by Month series and, while enjoyable, it felt a bit uneven.  The beginning of the book was jarring: the story begins with the discovery of Jeff’s body and then restarts, flashing back to Mira’s life pre-Battle Lake.  I found it difficult to connect with Mira right away—some of the slang she uses seems out of place, she’s aimless and reckless, and she can be a bit crude.  There’s also the fact that “the one job she truly enjoys at the library is putting away the books”.  I expect that as the series develops, she will lose her aimlessness; I hope that she also gains a better appreciation of librarianship.  *I know, it’s a mystery series and the focus is on sleuthing but if Mira is going to be a librarian, I’d like her to be a librarian.  One characterization that I do like is the fact that Mira feeds the birds out of a paranoid compulsion to “keep them pacified”.  She is funny.

The mystery is solid and the setting is interesting.  The characters are quirky but perhaps too deviant for some readers.  The publisher’s description terms this a cozy—I disagree, there are too many sexual situations for that label.
May Day is reminiscent of Stephanie Plum without being an obvious copycat—I’ll give the second book a try.


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