Today, I’ll be continuing my posts about the most popular and recommended Cozy Mystery series with Victoria Gilbert‘s Blue Ridge Library Mystery Series. As usual, I’ll be specifically discussing the first book in the series – in this case, A Murder for the Books.
Starting this book, most Cozy readers will very quickly identify that this is a very standard opening for modern Cozies. Library director Amy Webber has relatively recently left a much more prestigious job at a nearby university for two reasons – first, so she can be closer to her Aunt, who is having increasing physical mobility problems, and second, to avoid her philandering former boyfriend. Though Taylorsford, Virginia, isn’t exactly described as Amy’s hometown, she definitely has a history in the smaller community, having spent many of her vacations as a child with her aunt, and technically commuting from there to her former university job until she quit.
Despite the fact that she has sworn off men for the time being, she quickly becomes exposed to temptation in the form of Richard Muir, her new neighbor, a “hunky” artistic former dancer and choreographer now working as an instructor at the university Amy formerly worked at. Richard has recently purchased the house next door to Amy – a supposedly haunted house owned by his great-uncle. Said relative had a particular interest in proving the innocence of a supposed murderer who had been legally acquitted, but still believed to be a murderer in public opinion. When Amy takes Richard into the archives to begin his investigation of older material, the pair quickly locate a corpse.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – I strongly prefer when a Cozy presents the murder right away rather than lingering through chapters and chapters of atmosphere before getting to the mystery. This is definitely one of the fastest to murder – the corpse is located at the very end of Chapter 1, page 17 according to my Kindle, out of 30 chapters and 323 pages. While atmosphere is of course an important part of a Cozy, it’s definitely better to establish it while keeping the actual case in mind rather than going through many descriptions of pastries or antiquing or other incidentals.
Fortunately, Taylorsford does present an interesting atmosphere as well, as an example of a relatively old small American town with a mix of some surviving older buildings, including the library, as well as some newer development like the nearby shopping areas.
A Murder for the Books includes many familiar modern Cozy elements, but it does so in a charming enough manner to entertain nonetheless. Enthusiasts of modern Cozies should find plenty of material to like in A Murder for the Books – and this is especially true for anyone who considers the actual crime to be the most important “front-and-center” element of the Cozy.
If you’re interested in seeing other most recommended or popular Cozy Mystery authors/series, please visit the Most Popular & Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site