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By Book or By Crook

By Book or By Crook - Eva Gates Dollycas’s Thoughts

Two of my favorite things, libraries, and lighthouses, so when they are combined it really gets me excited.

Lucy Richardson is the newest librarian at The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library but her hiring has some people quite twitterpated. One thought the job should have been hers, others didn’t think the position was necessary, and even the head of the library board wants to get rid of her. The head librarian and the staff at the library are thrilled to have her join them, especially with the Jane Austen exhibit and programs starting.

An event took place for friends of the library to see the exhibit before it was opened to the public. Just as Bertie, the head librarian, is ready to announce a special addition to the exhibit the head of the board is found dead. Because of his position to get rid of Lucy, she becomes a suspect but Bertie is the one that leaps to the top of the police’s list. Then one of the Austen novels goes missing.

Did Bertie remove the book to throw suspicion away from herself? Or is the real killer a thief too? Or are there 2 criminals on Bodie Island? Lucy hopes to close the book on the case by answering all those questions.

First, the author starts the book saying there would not be enough space in a real lighthouse to include all the books, staircases and rooms she has written into this book, so on the basis of the library’s structure the reader must suspend reality and I was fine with that. I just imagined a huge lighthouse, bigger than I have ever seen. Think of it – each level has a special purpose. The main floor for the usual adult fiction and non-fiction with a special alcove and program areas. The next floor is filled with children’s books and programs. The third level for rare books, maps, etc. And the fourth floor a unique living space where Lucy has made herself at home. There is also a working lamp at the top. What a glorious setting with wonderful views! I would love to suspend the reality far enough to take me there.

Ms. Gates introduces us to fine characters. The library staff is made up of Bertie, Lucy, Ronald, the children’s librarian, Charlene, research librarian, and Charles, the library cat in residence. Lucy’s aunt, uncle, and cousin, along with the mayor, a nice detective and a not so nice detective round out what I assume will be the regular supporting cast. We also meet some unique friends of the library. Some were easy to like, others took some warming up and others were written to be not very likable. The author did a great job with this cast.

The murder mystery was not easy to solve. There was an entire room of suspects with an opportunity to commit the crime. The missing book mystery was also difficult because it could have been anyone from library regulars to someone off a bus that brought tourists in for the Austen exhibit. The library really should have had some kind of security person watching over the priceless items, but I don’t think there ever imagined the number of people that would pass through their doors for this event. I had a certain library patron at the top of my list but it was just a feeling. As the proof was all revealed I was surprised I actually was right.

I enjoyed everything about this story. Thee characters were very engaging, the mystery was very well written, and the setting was to die for.

I am late to the party on this series, but I am going to get all caught up before the fourth installment, The Spook in the Stacks, comes out on June 12.