Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay

“Lindsey Norris is just getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey’s friend Beth wants to sell the editor her children’s book, but Beth’s boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he’s found murdered-and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast before they throw the book at the wrong person.”  Book description

I wanted to like this book – the main character is a librarian and the book is written by a librarian.  The premise is good, the insider’s view of the library is good, and a few of the local characters are good – I’d personally love to meet Sully.  Unfortunately, too many of the characters are caricatures – the bumbling police chief, the crazed ex, the petulant boyfriend.  There’s a lot of irrelevant detail – what label of clothing/footwear someone’s wearing, where snacks for a roadtrip were purchased etc. I could have accepted the excessive descriptiveness if the same attention had been devoted to the mystery itself but sadly it was not.  I do expect a librarian to demonstrate better investigative skills – public records, anyone?  The biggest fault with the book however is what’s left out – how exactly did the murderer get to the island?  How did this not come up?

In addition to those complaints, I have to say I was completely irritated by Ms. Cole – I can’t imagine any manager being so ambivalent about the behavior described and I’m as softhearted as you can get.  I was also troubled by a couple of details related to Rick Eckman: one, he’s a Caldecott winner and yet Lindsey implies that his books have little to recommend them; two, his relationship with Beth, given the way he apparently interacts with people in general.  Finally, I felt cheated by the buildup about Ruby island that went nowhere.

Sigh.  If it were a first novel, I would give the next book in the series a try, but it’s not.

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