Saturday, May 12, 2018

Better Off Read by Nora Page

I'm always up for a new mystery featuring a librarian or library. Nora Page's Better Off Read involves a bookmobile and a seventy-five-year-old librarian, Cleo Watkins.

Catalpha Springs, Georgia's mayor, Jeb Day, isn't interested in repairing the library's roof after a tree damages it during a storm. He'd rather use the city's money to build a fishing pier and turn the the town into a sport fishing destination. So, Cleo and the library cat, Rhett Butler, take to the roads in the only remaining library, an aging school bus called "Words on Wheels". Cleo hopes to drum up community support for the library.

The longest standing member of the library board, Buford Krandall, might be able to help with support. Cleo's a little worried about Krandall who has been checking out all kinds of books about getting away with murder. His latest DIY project pours mud into Pancake Spring, affecting the Pancake Mill's business. It's Krandall as a victim rather than a killer that Cleo has to worry about. And, her best friend, Mary-Rose Garland, owner of the Pancake Mill, is the primary suspect when Cleo finds Buford Krandall dead.

"Cleo's skills in organization, research, and people-reading had proved useful for solving problems in the past." If the local good ol' boys, the police chief and the mayor, are going to pick on Mary-Rose as the killer, it's going to be up to Cleo to find the real murderer. And, Mary-Rose's arrest only ups the ante.

Unfortunately for my love of library mysteries, the first in this series is a little too cluttered. There's a large cast of quirky characters, and it's hard to keep them all straight. But, there's some wonderful sounding Southern food. If you're looking for bookmobile mysteries, maybe you should try Laurie Cass' Bookmobile Cat mysteries. If it's library mysteries, try Miranda James or Jenn McKinlay. For small-town, homespun library stories, Ashton Lee's Cherry Cola Book Club series might work. Page just needs to work on cutting down the cast of characters because Cleo herself is a strong-willed, sassy amateur sleuth.

Nora Page's website is

Better Off Read by Nora Page. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683316435 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.


SandyG265 said...

I’m getting this from the library so I’ll give it a try.

Charlotte said...

I am thrilled to write my library I town has this book.
I will check it out later after I get through of some of my other library books. I am looking at four on my desk right now.

Kay said...

Yes, my library has ordered this too. Will put it on my list to try maybe later in the summer. Since this is the first book in the series, maybe the cast will whittle down a bit (hopefully, not by appearing as bodies - ha!).

Lesa said...

I hope you all enjoy the book. Kay, that's one way to whittle down a cast! Love it!