Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook

While I have some nitpicking complaints about Allison Brook's third Haunted Library mystery, Buried in the Stacks, I'll save those and my recommendation for the conclusion. Brook does bring up a troublesome issue in public libraries; how to handle the homeless issue so they feel welcome and other customers don't feel threatened.

Carrie Singleton was hired at the Clover Ridge, Connecticut, public library, even though she presented herself as a confused Goth girl at the time. Now, she's head of programs and events. She's dating her landlord, an investigator who specializes in theft, and she is the owner of Smokey Joe, the library cat. She's also the only one on the staff who can see the ghost of Evelyn Havers, a former staff member.

When Carrie agrees to be the new Sunshine Delegate, her first hospital visit is to the most unpopular member of the staff, Dorothy Hawkins. Dorothy tells Carrie she's afraid her husband, Fred, is trying to kill her, but Evelyn, who is Dorothy's aunt, scoffs at the idea, and Dorothy herself denies it when she's released from the hospital. However, right after she returns to work, someone rear-ends Dorothy's car, and she's killed. A distraught Evelyn begs Carrie to investigate. Even a friend on the police force admits Carrie's curiosity and concern won't let her ignore the death.

When some of the homeless visitors to the library cause too many problems, and a local group proposes a day care center for them, Carrie sees an opportunity to handle two issues. She volunteers to be the library's representative to the group, a group made up of people Dorothy and Fred were related to or knew well. But, Carrie's quickly in over her head, dealing with a group who have gambling schemes, criminal connections, or are skating a little too close to illegal actions. She's asking too many questions, and puts herself in harm's way. Even Smokey Joe is threatened by Carrie's actions.

Brook does an excellent job discussing a troublesome issue in libraries, and she puts a face on the homeless by introducing a couple who were once business owners in town, people struggling with the loss of their business, their home, and health issues. That issue is important, and handled well.

However, here are my issues with the book. As I said, perhaps it's nitpicking. First, the title has nothing to do with the plot. I'm sure it was stuck on as acknowledgement that the amateur sleuth works in a library. However, no one is Buried in the Stacks. And, while there has to be a suspension of disbelief when reading a cozy mystery, this time the amateur sleuth is in way over her head. Gambling? Criminals, violence and murder? While no amateur sleuths should really be investigating, Carrie goes too far in this one when there's a capable police department who takes her concerns seriously.

Just my nitpicking complaints. I'll stick with Jenn McKinlay and Dean James for library mysteries.

Allison Brook's website is under

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook. Crooked Lane Books, 2019. ISBN 9781643851389 (hardcover), 320p.

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


Sandie Herron said...

Nice review Lesa. I particularly like how you handled letting us know of your misgivings. The recommendations for alternatives were nice as well.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Sandie! I always appreciate your comments.