This time around, I decided to read a multi-themed Cozy as part of my series about the most popular and recommended mystery series. This book incorporates no less than three Cozy mystery themes – librarians, lighthouses, and cats! Two of these, librarians and cats are among the most popular of all the themes.
I read By Book or by Crook, the first in the Lighthouse Library Mystery Series by Eva Gates. Eva Gates, you may already know, also writes several popular series as Vicki Delany. (It still mystifies me why such a popular author needs to write under two names — oh well, it is lucky for us that the world is full of mysteries!)
The story follows Lucy Richardson, the new assistant librarian at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library. (By the way, in an “Author’s Note” at the beginning of the book, we learn that although the lighthouse actually exists, it is not big enough in real life for a library or much else that the book’s lighthouse contains.)
Lucy has newly arrived from Boston. She has arrived just in time for a very special exhibit — a complete set of Jane Austen’s first editions on loan for a few months. In celebration of the arrival of these special books, the library hosts a small party for staff and board members to see the books for the first time. During the party, as is often the case in Cozy Mysteries, a murder occurs.
Of course, the person murdered as disliked and/or hated by quite of few of the library staff and board members. So, it is a real mystery that must be solved. Lucy is especially interested in discovering the culprit since one of the prime suspects is Bertie, the head librarian who recently hired Lucy.
Besides the usual long list of suspects, the small town also includes several other characters, including two different men who are interested in Lucy as well as the murder. The first, Connor McNeil, is the mayor of the town and an old acquaintance of Lucy who first met Connor during one of the summer vacations that her family had spent in the area. The second, Butch Greenblatt, a police officer. Before the party is over, both Connor and Butch have asked Lucy out of for a date at the new seafood restaurant in town. (I must have been doing something wrong when I was single. When I moved to a new town, this never happened to me!!)
I forgot to mention another important character, the cat, Charles (Dickens), who spends his time in the library and ends up living with Lucy in the small apartment inside the lighthouse above the library.
The book is a charming delight of a read. I zoomed through the pages trying to solve the mystery before the plucky Lucy could do so. Fun and light (in the good sense of the word), By Book or by Crook is a delightful start to a Cozy series that hits all the right notes.
P.S. If you are interested in reading some of the other entries about highly recommended Cozy Mystery series, you can find them at the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on the site.