Recommended without reservation: By Book or by Crook (Book 1), Booked for Trouble (Book 2), and Reading Up a Storm (Book 3), by Vicki Delany, writing as Eva Gates, from Obsidian/Penguin Group.
In real life, the Bodie Island Lighthouse warns ships away from the Graveyard of the Atlantic off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In fiction, the black-and-white striped structure lures readers into a delightful series of cozy mysteries beginning with By Book or by Crook.
The setting shines as strong as the original first order Fresnal light blinking atop the lighthouse at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It’s a shame the light doesn’t really house a library, much less a tiny apartment at the top for an assistant librarian, because it would be the perfect place to curl up with a good book, by day or by night. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that settings are an important consideration for the author, Vicki Delany, writing here as Eva Gates.
Lucy Richardson, the assistant librarian, is another strength in this series. She flees Boston and the Harvard Library after rejecting an insipid proposal from the son of her father’s law partner and a match made by their mothers. Lucy spurns the suitor and the superficial society, choosing substance in the South instead. I like that. She’s no silly filly, rushing headlong into danger . . . well, not often. And, even better, she’s not rushing into bed with either of the two men whose attention she attracts, even if one of them is the grown-up version of the boy she first kissed. I really like that!
The second book in the series, Booked for Trouble, explores more of Lucy’s family background, opening with a surprise visit from her mother. Gates/Delany has a gift for exploring the complex mother-daughter relationship, which adds another layer of interest to the second book in this series.
I could quibble over a few teeny, tiny things – but who reads a cozy to quibble? This is the kind of book to read for a pleasant escape, whether you’re relaxing on the beach or in a bubble bath, curled up in the corner of your couch or on a window seat. It’s fun fiction, and you should have fun reading it. The only serious fault I can find is with the publisher, who having priced the Kindle editions at $7.99 – as high as the list price of the mass market paperback editions – has now discovered that cozy readers don’t care to pay more for an e-book than for a paperback and is threatening to cut series like this from its list. I opted for the paperbacks, which I now own and could lend or resell . . . but I won’t. I’ll keep them and read them again.
By Book or by Crook
For 10 years Lucy has enjoyed her job poring over rare tomes of literature for the Harvard Library, but she has not enjoyed the demands of her family’s social whorl or her sort-of-engagement to the staid son of her father’s law partner. But when the relationship implodes, Lucy realizes that the plot of her life is in need of a serious rewrite. Calling on her aunt Ellen, Lucy hopes that a little fun in the Outer Banks sun—and some confections from her cousin Josie’s bakery—will help clear her head. But her retreat quickly turns into an unexpected opportunity when Aunt Ellen gets her involved in the lighthouse library tucked away on Bodie Island. Lucy is thrilled to land a librarian job in her favorite place in the world. But when a priceless first edition Jane Austen novel is stolen and the chair of the library board is murdered, Lucy suddenly finds herself ensnared in a real-life mystery—and she’s not so sure there’s going to be a happy ending . . . .
Booked for Trouble
Lucy has finally found her bliss as a librarian and resident of the Bodie Island Lighthouse. She loves walking on the beach, passing her evenings with the local book club, bonding with the library cat, Charles, and enjoying the attention of not one, but TWO eligible men. But then her socialite mother, Suzanne, unexpectedly drops in, determined to move Lucy back to Boston—and reunite her with her ex-fiancé. To make matters worse, Suzanne picks a very public fight at the local hotel with her former classmate Karen Kivas. So, when Karen turns up dead outside the library the next morning, Suzanne is immediately at the top of the suspect list. Now Lucy must hunt down a dangerous killer—before the authorities throw the book at her poor mother . . . .
Reading up a Storm
Misfortune blows into North Carolina’s Outer Banks when a dead body in a boat on the shore leaves local librarian Lucy Richardson racing to solve a strange new mystery. After a successful party at Bodie Island’s Lighthouse Library, librarian Lucy Richardson is ready to curl up with her cat, Charles, and a good book. But her R and R is cut short when she notices some mysterious lights leading a small boat to crash into the coast. The two shipwrecked seafarers survive the ordeal—but one of them shows up dead ashore a few days later. Lucy finds herself again roped into a murder investigation and navigating a sea of suspects, all of whom had motives to deep-six the deceased. And this time, she has a sinking feeling that finding the real killer won’t be so easy . . . .
About the author: Vicki Delany began writing on Sundays, and not on every Sunday at that, while mothering three daughters and working full time as a computer programmer. In 2007, she opted for early retirement and moved to Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she writes as often as she likes. She has penned several stand-alone novels, all set in Ontario, as well as a historical mystery series set in Dawson during the Klondike Gold Rush. For more, view her website: www.vickidelany.com
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