Sharing Books and Authors, with an emphasis on Mysteries.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Classified as Murder by Miranda James
Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks mysteries top my list for pleasure reading. As I said when I reviewed the first book, Murder Past Due, give me a Southern setting, a librarian sleuth, a wonderful cat, and an intriguing mystery, and I'm happy. This time, in Classified as Murder, James takes his characters into the world of rare book collecting. The book is a delightful treat for mystery fans.
When Charlie Harris volunteered at the public library in Athena, Mississippi, he frequently helped James Delacorte, an octogenarian with eclectic tastes in reading. Charlie was a little surprised when Mr. Delacorte asked him to help with the inventory of his rare book collection. He thought some books were missing, and he suspected family members.
Before Charlie could even start the job, his own son showed up, asking if he could stay away. Delacorte's family isn't the only one with problems. The relationship between Charlie and Sean is quite strained, and it takes a while for the two of them to have an important discussion.
In contrast, Charlie finds a strange situation at Delacorte's house when he sees the library for the first time, and goes to tea. He and Diesel are both appalled at the outrageous behavior of Delacorte's family. One woman dresses as if she were living on an antebellum plantation, and isn't quite in the real world. The nurse in the family is quite cold; one suffers from unknown ailments, and all of them have a tendency to argue in front of strangers. And, when Charlie finds Delacorte dead at his desk, he and Diesel are once more caught up in a murder investigation.
What's any better than an eccentric family in a traditional mystery? It's fun to meet Delacorte's family, but it's even more fun to get to know Charlie's son, Sean. James does an excellent job exposing the weaknesses in both families. The author includes some information about rare books, which is always fascinating. And, Diesel plays an important role in this book, as we get to know him a little better as well. I still have the same complaint I had with Murder Past Due, and it's not the author's fault. That is not a Maine coon cat on the front of Classified as Murder. Saying that, anyone looking for a solid traditional mystery, a likable protagonist, and a wonderful cat, won't go wrong if they pick up Classified as Murder.