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Agatha Awards
2012
The beautiful mystery : a Chief Inspector Gamache novel
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louise Penny.
2012
Lowcountry boil : a Liz Talbot mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Susan M. Boyer.

Library Journal When PI Liz Talbot learns that her grandmother has been murdered at her South Carolina island home, she returns to Stella Maris, where she will stay until she can help solve the shocking homicide. Two other factors sway this decision: the ghost of her late best friend from high school is talking to her, and she inherited Gram's house. Her big brother, Blake, who is also chief of police, doesn't want her meddling-as if his hardheaded sister is giving him a choice. Plenty of secrets, long--simmering feuds, and greedy ventures make for a captivating read. VERDICT Boyer's chick lit PI debut charmingly showcases South Carolina island culture. Her light paranormal garnered nominations for the 2012 RITA Golden Heart Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A nice pairing with Sue Ann Jaffarian's "Ghost of Granny Apples" series. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2012
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels
Click to search this book in our catalog   by John Connolly/Declan Burke
 
2013
The haunted lighthouse
 Penny Warner.
  Click to search this book in our catalog
2011(Best Novel)
Three-Day Town
 Margaret Maron

Book list In her seventeenth Deborah Knott mystery, Maron's two series protagonists the warm North Carolina judge, Knott, and the cool NYPD lieutenant, Sigrid Harald (last seen in Fugitive Colors, 1995) meet for the first time. A year after their marriage, Deborah and Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant are off to New York for a weeklong honeymoon, staying at Dwight's sister-in-law's Manhattan apartment. They are asked to deliver a package to Sigrid's mother. When Sigrid comes to get the package for her vacationing mother, during a party in a neighboring apartment, the building superintendent is found dead and the risque and potentially valuable statue from the package is missing. Then the body of one of the building's elevator men is found in a garbage bag, and the teenage son of the chair of the co-op board goes missing. Maron tosses in plenty of red herrings before Deborah's intuition and curiosity combine to break the case. A reliably entertaining addition to an always enjoyable series, though, by the end, it's clear that, for Deborah and Dwight, home proves a lot more enticing than Broadway glitter.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Bestseller Maron's charming 17th Deborah Knott mystery (after 2010's Christmas Mourning) takes the North Carolina judge and her husband of one year, Dwight Bryant, to New York City for a belated honeymoon. They bear an unusual gift, a small bronze sculpture, for photojournalist Anne Lattimore Harald from Anne's dying mother, wealthy Jane Lattimore, who's a distant cousin of Deborah's. Deborah arranges to meet Anne's daughter, NYPD Lt. Sigrid Harald, who will pick up the gift, at a large party next door to the Manhattan apartment that an absent friend is letting the couple use. When Sigrid and Deborah return to the borrowed apartment, the sculpture is missing from the kitchen counter; worse, the dead body of the building's super is lying on the balcony. Could someone from the party be responsible for the theft and the murder? Deborah, with her inveterate curiosity, assists Sigrid, last seen in her own series in 1995's Fugitive Colors, in the official investigation. This is a strong addition to a series that's won Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Judge Deborah Knott's (Christmas Mourning) honeymoon in New York City is tainted by murder. It's always good to see our favorites in new venues, even if it turns out to be a busman's holiday. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2011(Best First Novel)
Learning To Swim
 Sara J. Henry

Publishers Weekly Freelance writer Troy Chance, the protagonist of Henry's impressive first novel, impulsively, and literally, dives into trouble when she sees a youngster fall from a ferry boat on Lake Champlain. Troy manages to rescue the boy, discovers that his fall was no accident, and after brief, anonymous reports to the police, embarks on an ill-conceived attempt to become the boy's protector. Bonding with the boy, she eventually learns his name, Paul Dumond; his age, six; and that he and his mother had been kidnapped and his mother later shot and killed. Troy locates Paul's Canadian father, Philippe, and reunites father and son, but she is unwilling to end her involvement. When the police can't find the kidnappers, Troy starts to probe more deeply into the lives of Philippe, his abducted wife, and Paul's captivity. Henry adroitly handles Troy's exposure to new emotions as she re-examines her life and relationships. An inconclusive ending may signal that Chance's journey is not yet over. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list When Troy Chance spots what she thinks is a small boy being tossed off the back of a passing ferry, she instinctively jumps into the icy waters of Lake Champlain. She rescues the youngster and discovers that his arms were bound with an adult sweatshirt. He's incredibly frightened, speaks only French, and won't tell her what happened. Troy determines that she will keep him safe rather than turn him over to the police. When he finally begins to confide in her, he tells a bizarre tale of being kidnapped, hearing his mother murdered by gunshot, and then being held for months. As Troy tracks down the boy's father, she begins to question whether she will be able to let him go, since he has unleashed within her a maternal instinct she had no idea she possessed. In her debut, the first in a projected series, Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn's feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Freelance writer Troy Chance sees a child thrown from a ferry and jumps into the water to save him. Haunted by a past experience with an abandoned child, she decides to be sure that his parents weren't responsible before she notifies the police. She travels to Canada to meet with Paul's divorced father and realizes that she has become more attached to the child than she wanted to be. Accepting an invitation to stay with the family for a few days while Paul recovers from the trauma of his kidnapping, Troy finds herself falling for his father. At the same time, she is unable to leave the investigation in the hands of the police, still fearing that one of the parents could have been involved. Verdict Fans of both mystery and romantic suspense will welcome this promising new author; the unsettled ending hints at a follow-up mystery.-Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2011(Best Non-fiction)
Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure
Click to search this book in our catalog   Leslie Budewitz

Library Journal Budewitz, an attorney-at-law who has been published in mystery magazines, wrote this book to help crime writers wade through the time-consuming and often confusing process of legal research. She provides an insider's perspective on often overlooked legal concepts and pinpoints common errors writers make when incorporating criminal and civil law into their fiction. The book covers 160 topics, including proper legal terminology, realistic courtroom behavior and dialog, proper procedure (both at the state and at the federal level), and the legal system as a whole. The frequently asked questions featured in each chapter are also arranged by topic within the table of contents, enabling readers to pick and choose the legal aspects most relevant to their writing. The final chapter offers guidance on conducting legal research, and the "Book Links" section references useful URLs listed throughout. VERDICT Budewitz's material is straightforward and user-friendly. Her content will help shave off hours of research time and enable writers to focus more energy on craft, plot, and character development. Highly recommended for aspiring writers of crime fiction. [Quill Driver also published Carolyn Kaufman's The Writer's Guide to Psychology.-Ed.]-Karen McCoy, Northern Arizona Univ. Lib., Flagstaff (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Lawyer and crime-fiction writer Budewitz has put together an essential guide to getting it right when writing about the law. Starting with the basics (the difference between criminal and civil action; the difference between a judge and a justice) and proceeding in a logical fashion to more complicated stuff (how prosecutors decide whether to proceed with a case; the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence; the facts about diplomatic immunity), the author explains how crime writers can make sure to use the correct terminology and proper procedures, thus ensuring that they will not, well, embarrass themselves. Budewitz also makes intelligible to the layperson some of those baffling legal terms Res ipsa loquitor, that sort of thing and she dips into such potentially murky waters as legal ethics and the death penalty (from a writerly standpoint rather than a philosophical one). Written in clear, simple prose and drawing on examples from crime fiction and the author's own career as a lawyer, this book belongs on the shelf of every crime writer.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2011(Best Children's/Young Adult)
The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Chris Grabenstein

Book list Gruesome, hilarious, and truly scary, the latest entry in the prizewinning Haunted Mysteries series about Zack, 11, is a great read-aloud for Halloween. In fact, that is when it is set, on the night when ghosts gets special powers and the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. Zack and his friends dress up as killer bees, and from the school bus to a family crypt in the cemetery ( totally creepy but totally cool ), they encounter demons, including ghosts of gangsters with scores to settle. Zack, who loves his stepmom, is terrified when his dead birth mother returns as a dybbuk demon: Does she want to harm him or make amends? The story is set in contemporary New England, and the characters rely on cell phones and texting to communicate, but the horror is timeless. Caught up in the fast-paced action, kids will want to share the irreverent commentary, including the occasional gross-out rhyme: There's one little worm that's very shy / Crawls in your stomach and out your eye. --Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Zack, 13, is still seeing spirits. and they see him. He has more or less come to terms with them, though, and he thinks that he has defeated the worst the spirit world could throw at him. But that was before the spell was broken, releasing 13 ghosts, the entire Ickleby clan. Zack's family moved the Icklebys' coffins and imprisoned their spirits decades ago. Now, with the curse broken and their ancestor offering up his body for possession, they have the ability to exact their revenge on Zack for his family's deeds. This novel speeds along at a breakneck pace, hauling readers along as Zack and his friends (and his dog, Zipper) attempt to dodge and defeat the vengeful, rather inept, spirits. The action-packed short chapters and vivid imagery will make this book an easy sell to young teens and reluctant readers, even if they haven't read the previous books in the series.-Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2010 (Best Novel)
Bury Your Dead
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louise Penny

Publishers Weekly At the start of Agatha-winner Penny's moving and powerful sixth Chief Insp. Armand Gamache mystery (after 2009's The Brutal Telling), Gamache is recovering from a physical and emotional trauma, the exact nature of which isn't immediately disclosed, in Quebec City. When the body of Augustin Renaud, an eccentric who'd spent his life searching for the burial site of Samuel de Champlain, Quebec's founder, turns up in the basement of the Literary and Historical Society, Gamache reluctantly gets involved in the murder inquiry. Meanwhile, Gamache dispatches his longtime colleague, Insp. Jean Guy Beauvoir, to the quiet town of Three Pines to revisit the case supposedly resolved at the end of the previous book. Few writers in any genre can match Penny's ability to combine heartbreak and hope in the same scene. Increasingly ambitious in her plotting, she continues to create characters readers would want to meet in real life. 100,000 first printing. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Penny's first five crime novels in her Armand Gamache series have all been outstanding, but her latest is the best yet, a true tour de force of storytelling. When crime writers attempt to combine two fully fleshed plots into one book, the hull tends to get a bit leaky; Penny, on the other hand, constructs an absolutely airtight ship in which she manages to float not two but three freestanding but subtly intertwined stories. Front and center are the travails of Gamache, chief inspector of the Sûreté du Quebec, who is visiting an old friend in Quebec City and hoping to recover from a case gone wrong. Soon, however, he is involved with a new case: the murder of an archaeologist who was devoted to finding the missing remains of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec. As Gamache is drawn into this history-drenched investigation the victim's body was found in an English-language library, calling up the full range of animosity between Quebec's French majority and dwindling English minority he is also concerned that he might have jailed the wrong man in his last case (The Brutal Telling,2009) and orders his colleague, Jean Guy Beauvoir, back to the village of Three Pines to find what they missed the first time. Hovering over both these present investigations is the case gone wrong in the past, the details of which are gradually revealed in perfectly placed flashbacks. Penny brilliantly juggles the three stories, which are connected only by a kind of psychological membrane; as Gamache makes sense of what happened in the past, he is better able to think his way through present dilemmas. From the tangled history of Quebec to the crippling reality of grief to the nuances of friendship, Penny hits every note perfectly in what is one of the most elaborately constructed mysteries in years.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal This superb mystery fast-forwards from The Brutal Telling, Penny's last novel, precipitating readers into the fictional future, as it further develops characters and plot. As always, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Montreal police is the series protagonist. Perceptive and reflective, Gamache has taken leave from his job and has repaired, sans wife, to Quebec City in order to recover from severe physical and emotional trauma incurred during a disastrous police hostage rescue mission. Plagued by his fatal mistakes, Gamache, succumbing to intrusive thoughts, incessantly relives the catastrophe. Indeed, the novel's structure replicates Gamache's thought processes, moving, in stream-of-consciousness fashion, from present to past and back again. Fortunately, Gamache is gradually drawn back to life as he happens upon a murder case. In the investigative process, he must perform meticulous research into the mystery of Quebec founder Samuel de Champlain's secret burial place. Verdict Reminiscent of the works of Donna Leon, P.D. James, and Elizabeth George, this is brilliantly provocative and will appeal to fans of literary fiction, as well as to mystery lovers. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 5/1/10; 100,000-copy first printing.]-Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2010 (Best First Novel)
The Long Quiche Goodbye
 Avery Aames
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2010 (Best Non-fiction)
Agatha Christies Secret Notebooks: 50 Years of Mysteries in the Making
 John Curran
  Click to search this book in our catalog
2010 (Best Children's/Young Adult)
The Other Side of Dark
 Sarah Smith

Book list Crazy Katie sees and draws ghosts of real people who were killed in horrid circumstances. Law Walker, the son of a black Harvard professor and white landscape architect, dreams of becoming an architectural historian. His father believes in reparations; his mother, historical preservation. All the characters collide in the planned demolition of Pinebank, a historic house central to Frederick Law Olmstead's Emerald Necklace park system in Boston. As Law begins to realize that Katie's visions hold the key to saving Pinebank, he falls for her, despite her oddities. Well-known adult author Smith, who confesses to have loved ghost stories since childhood, has written an intricate YA debut that weaves complicated racial issues into a romantic, mysterious novel based on a controversial event in recent Boston history. Both adult and teenage characters are likable and authentically complex. Katie's visions of slavery and Law's father's address to the Boston City Council make for challenging reading that will prompt readers to reconsider the burden of history we all carry, regardless of race or origin.--Bradburn, Frances Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly What good is being able to see and speak to the dead if it doesn't help solve a mystery surrounding them? Fifteen-year-old Katie Mullens can interact with ghosts, including that of her father, though not of her more recently deceased mother. Law Walker is the mixed-race son of activists-an academic father who's a prominent advocate for slavery reparations ("Even in pajamas, standing at the top of the stairs and saying, Susan, I have lost my toothbrush,' his voice quivers with the weight of four hundred years of injustice") and a mother struggling to save a historic Boston building. Forging a friendship as outsiders-their classmates have written off Katie as crazy, and Law is a self-described geek trying to escape his domineering father's shadow-Katie and Law dive into a thickening tangle involving slavery, a treasure, and an old cabal that has modern-day repercussions for living and dead alike. Alternating between the teenagers' distinct and searching first-person narratives, and combining real history with quests for identity both personal and national, adult author Smith's YA debut is much more than just a ghost story. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 7-10-Law Walker and Katie Mullens couldn't be more different. He's the son of a wealthy African-American historian and a white architectural historian. She's a talented artist from a poor family who, after the death of her mother, begins to draw what she sees: ghosts and the horrific ways they died. Katie and Law are drawn together by Pinesbank, an estate that Law's father wants destroyed because of its ties to the slave trade, his mother wants restored because of its place in Boston history, and that Katie knows is important because of her new friendship with the ghost of a boy who lived there. While the premise may seem like that of many other supernatural romances, there is a depth to this title that others are lacking. Law is torn between his mother, whose passion for architecture he shares, and his strident father, who has built his career on working toward reparations and expects his son to follow in his footsteps. Katie is trying to hang on through her grief. Details of her visions and conversations with the dead will haunt readers, even as they're thinking about how race shapes actions and relationships, and how the past can change the present. Recommended for fans of paranormal romance and historical fiction alike.-Karen E. Brooks-Reese, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2009 (Best Novel)
The Brutal Telling
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louise Penny

Library Journal Having won numerous mystery prizes, including the prestigious Arthur Ellis and Anthony awards for her debut, Still Life, Canadian author Penny has only gotten better with each succeeding novel. Her fifth in the series is the finest of all. Featuring series protagonist Chief Inspector Gamache, this literary mystery explores the ways in which sins of the past have a way of resurrecting themselves, wreaking havoc upon their perpetrators, and, unfortunately, the innocent. Thus, when a hermit is slain in the woods near an isolated village in rural Quebec, secrets surface, unmasking characters who have adopted benign personae to conceal their questionable past deeds. Fortunately, sagacious Gamache possesses the acumen to peel away the layers of deceit and to expose the truth. Verdict This superb novel will appeal to readers who enjoy sophisticated literary mysteries in the tradition of Donna Leon. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/09; 100,000-copy first printing; library marketing campaign.]-Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* This fifth in Penny's celebrated Armand Gamache series finds the chief inspector of the Sûreté du Quebec returning once again to the tiny village of Three Pines, where murder seems to disrupt the comfortable routines of the residents with alarming frequency. This time the body of an unknown man has turned up on the floor of the village bistro and antique shop. With a sophistication and a sense of empathy that will remind readers of P. D. James' Adam Dalgleish, Gamache and his team tease information out of the recalcitrant locals, many of whom have appeared in previous books. When the identity of the man, a hermit who was living in a cabin deep in the woods, is finally revealed, the case expands its boundaries, as Penny leapfrogs gracefully from village rivalries and festering grudges to the international antiques trade and the works of legendary Canadian artist Emily Carr. What holds the book together, though, is the calming presence of Gamache, whose mix of erudition and intuition draws readers in just as it lulls suspects into revealing a little too much. Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie, and while there is a surface resemblance there, it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm for the formula-bound Christie. No, Penny belongs in the hands of those who read not only P. D. James but also Donna Leon, who, like Penny, mixes her hero's family and professional lives fluidly and with a subtle grasp of telling detail.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly When the body of an unknown old man turns up in a bistro in Agatha-winner Penny's excellent fifth mystery set in the Quebec village of Three Pines (after Jan. 2009's A Rule Against Murder), Chief Insp. Armand Gamache investigates. At a cabin in the woods apparently belonging to the dead man, Gamache and his team are shocked to discover the remote building is full of priceless antiquities, from first edition books to European treasures thought to have disappeared during WWII. When suspicion falls on one of Three Pines' most prominent citizens, it's up to Gamache to sift through the lies and uncover the truth. Though Gamache is undeniably the focus, Penny continues to develop her growing cast of supporting characters, including newcomers Marc and Dominique Gilbert, who are converting an old house-the site of two murders-into a spa. Readers keen for another glimpse into the life of Three Pines will be well rewarded. 100,000 first printing. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2009 (Best First Novel)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Click to search this book in our catalog   Alan Bradley

Book list *Starred Review* Canadian Alan Bradley's first full-length crime novel is delightful. Like fellow Canadian Louise Penny, his book is the recipient of the Debut Dagger Award from Canada's Crime Writers' Association. Sweetness introduces a charming and engaging sleuth who is only 11 years old. Flavia is one of three precocious and extremely literate daughters being raised by English widower Colonel de Luce in 1950. Flavia's passion is chemistry (with a special interest in poisons). She is able to pursue her passion in the fully equipped Victorian laboratory in Buckshaw, the English mansion where the de Luce family lives. The story begins with a dead snipe (with a rare stamp embedded on its beak) found on the back doorstep. This is followed by a dead human body in the garden and, later, by a poisonous custard pie. Revelations about the mysterious past of Colonel de Luce complicate matters. Others supporting players include the housekeeper, Mrs. Mullet, and the gardener, Dogger, who suffers from shell shock. When Colonel de Luce is arrested for murder, it's up to Flavia to solve the mystery. The 11-year-old claims she is not afraid because this was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life. Only those who dislike precocious young heroines with extraordinary vocabulary and audacious courage can fail to like this amazingly entertaining book. Expect more from the talented Bradley.--Coon, Judy Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Fans of Louise Fitzhugh's iconic Harriet the Spy will welcome 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce, the heroine of Canadian journalist Bradley's rollicking debut. In an early 1950s English village, Flavia is preoccupied with retaliating against her lofty older sisters when a rude, redheaded stranger arrives to confront her eccentric father, a philatelic devotee. Equally adept at quoting 18th-century works, listening at keyholes and picking locks, Flavia learns that her father, Colonel de Luce, may be involved in the suicide of his long-ago schoolmaster and the theft of a priceless stamp. The sudden expiration of the stranger in a cucumber bed, wacky village characters with ties to the schoolmaster, and a sharp inspector with doubts about the colonel and his enterprising young detective daughter mean complications for Flavia and enormous fun for the reader. Tantalizing hints about a gardener with a shady past and the mysterious death of Flavia's adventurous mother promise further intrigues ahead. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal An 11-year-old solving a dastardly murder in the English countryside in 1950 wouldn't seem to be everyone's cup of tea. But Flavia Sabina de Luce is no ordinary child: she's already an accomplished chemist, smart enough to escape being imprisoned by her older sisters and to exact revenge, forthright and fearless to the point of being foolhardy, and relentless in defending those she loves. When she spies on her father arguing heatedly with a strange man late at night and the next morning finds that man buried in the cucumber patch, she sets out, riding her bicycle named Gladys, to make sense of it all. And when her father-a philatelist and widower for a decade who still mourns his wife-is arrested, Flavia's efforts are intensified. She delves into the backstory, involving the death of her father's beloved teacher years earlier and the loss of a rare stamp, and puts together the pieces almost too late. The stiff-upper-lip de Luce family is somewhat stereotypically English, but precocious Flavia is unique. Winner of the Debut Dagger Award, this is a fresh, engaging first novel with appeal for cozy lovers and well beyond. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 1/09.]-Michele Leber, Arlington, VA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Adult/High School-When a stranger shows up dying in her family's cucumber patch in the middle of the night, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce expands her interests from chemistry and poisons to sleuthing and local history. The youngest of a reclusive widower's three daughters, Flavia is accustomed to independence and takes delight in puzzles and "what if's." She is well suited to uncovering the meaning of the dead snipe left at the kitchen door, the story behind the bright orange Victorian postage stamps, and-eventually-the identity of the murderer and his relationship to the dying man. Bradley sets the protagonist on a merry course that includes contaminating her oldest sister's lipstick with poison ivy, climbing the bell tower of the local boys' school, and sifting through old newspapers in the village library's outbuilding. Flavia is brave and true and hilarious, and the murder mystery is clever and satisfying. Set in 1950, the novel reads like a product of that time, when stories might include insouciance but relative innocence, pranks without swear words, and children who were not so overscheduled or frightened that they couldn't make their way quite nicely in chatting up the police or the battle-shocked family retainer. Mystery fans, Anglophiles, and science buffs will delight in this book and may come away with a slightly altered view of what is possible for a headstrong girl to achieve.-Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information

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2009 (Best Non-fiction)
Dame Agathas Shorts
Click to search this book in our catalog   Elena Santangelo
 
2009 (Best Children's/Young Adult)
The Hanging Hill
 Chris Grabenstein
  Click to search this book in our catalog
2008 (Best Novel)
The cruelest month : a Three Pines mystery
 Louise Penny.

Book list For such a small, pleasant place, the Quebec village of Three Pines has a surprising amount of big-time crime. In the third Armand Gamache novel, the Surete Chief Inspector is once again confronted with a baffling mystery, this one coming after an Easter séance results in murder. The thing about the Gamache novels is that while the crimes are intriguing, the people are downright fascinating not just Gamache himself, who manages to be completely original despite his similarities to Columbo and Poirot, but also the entire cast of supporting characters, who are so strongly written that every single one of them could probably carry an entire novel all by themselves. Readers familiar with the preceding two novels in the series Still Life (2006) and A Fatal Grace (2007) will be champing at the bit to get their hands on this one, and those who haven't yet met Armand Gamache will wonder what took them so long. Pair this with L. R. Wright's Karl Alberg series, starring a Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant and his librarian wife.--Pitt, David Copyright 2007 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal An impromptu seance at a haunted house turns deadly, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache finds himself hampered by an unlikely killer and his own investigative team in this third case by Arthur Ellis Award winner Penny, who lives in Montreal. Five-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Chief Insp. Armand Gamache and his team investigate another bizarre crime in the tiny Quebec village of Three Pines in Penny's expertly plotted third cozy (after 2007's A Fatal Grace). As the townspeople gather in the abandoned and perhaps haunted Hadley house for a seance with a visiting psychic, Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. No one has a harsh word to say about Madeleine, but Gamache knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. Complicating his inquiry are the repercussions of Gamache having accused his popular superior at the Surete du Quebec of heinous crimes in a previous case. Fearing there might be a mole on his team, Gamache works not only to solve the murder but to clear his name. Arthur Ellis Award-winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal The Quebecois village of Three Pines (first introduced in Still Life and Fatal Grace) is once again the scene of a perplexing murder, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team have caught the case. Madeleine Favreau, a cheerful and well-liked village resident, collapsed and died at an impromptu seance at a local house thought to be haunted. The cause of death is pronounced a high dose of ephedrine and fright. But Madeleine wasn't dieting, so who slipped her the ephedrine? Gamache is an engaging, modern-day Poirot who gently teases out information from his suspects while enjoying marvelous bistro meals and cozy walks on the village common. His team is an unlikely troupe of departmental misfits who blossom under his deft tutelage, turning up just the right clues. Penny is an award-winning writer whose cozies go beyond traditional boundaries, providing entertaining characters, a picturesque locale, and thought-provoking plots. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 11/1/07.]--Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2008 (Best First Novel)
Death of a cozy writer
 G.M. Malliet.

Publishers Weekly Fans of stylish English detective work will welcome Malliet's droll debut, the first in a new series. When Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, a pompous cozy author, invites his four grown children to his Yuletide wedding to Violet Winthrop at his 18th-century manor outside Cambridge, none of the four is pleased at the prospect of a young stepmother who could inherit their father's vast fortune. Besides, Violet's considered a black widow who did in her first husband. Soon after Sir Adrian announces during a family dinner that he and Violet are already wed, eldest son Ruthven turns up dead in the wine cellar. Sir Adrian's subsequent murder in his office doesn't inspire tears from either his bride or his first wife. Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and Detective Sergeant Fear of the Cambridgeshire constabulary conduct a lively investigation that underscores how the lack and the love of money might be at the root of society's ills. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal When millionaire and mystery author Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk sends out wedding announcements to his ex-wife and children, the family descends on Waverly Court, their father's large estate in Cambridgeshire. Family tensions soon break out into murder, and Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and Sergeant Fear are called in. In her series debut, Malliet, who won a Malice Domestic Grant to write this novel, lays the foundation for an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery, although the plot lacks direction and could have used a few more red herrings. Traces of humor add to a story enhanced by the detection skills of St. Just and Fear. This will appeal to Christie fans and readers who enjoy British cozies. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2008 (Best Non-fiction)
How to write killer historical mysteries : the art and adventure of sleuthing through the past
Click to search this book in our catalog   Kathy Lynn Emerson.

Book list Emerson, author of the Lady Appleton and Diana Spaulding mystery series, turns her hand to how it's done in this useful guide to writing historical crime fiction. Drawing on her own works and those of her fellow historical-mystery writers (Kerry Greenwood, Alan Gordon, Carola Dunn, and others), she lays out, in commonsense sequence, the stages of planning and writing a historical mystery. Chapters on choosing setting and character, research, crafting a plot, and selling your book offer much of the same information as similar chapters in other how-to books for mystery writers, but the information is nicely tailored for this particular genre. Published writers probably won't find much here that they don't already know, but budding historical novelists will discover a wealth of helpful tips and may want to keep a notebook handy to jot them down. The book finds its niche and fills it well.--Pitt, David Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2008 (Best Children's/Young Adult)
The crossroads
Click to search this book in our catalog   Chris Grabenstein.
2007 (Best First Novel)
Prime Time
Click to search this book in our catalog   Hank Phillippi Ryan
 
2007 (Best Nonfiction)
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters
 Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley

Library Journal The enduring popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) can largely be attributed to his stories of Sherlock Holmes-one of the most widely recognized characters in English literature. Edited by Lellenberg, U.S. agent for the Conan Doyle estate; Charles Foley, the Victorian writer's great-nephew; and mystery novelist/biographer Daniel Stashower, this volume excerpts Conan Doyle's previously unpublished letters, most written to his mother. In addition to covering his literary pursuits, it chronicles the near-complete range of Doyle's life, from letters he wrote as a schoolboy to correspondence dating from the decade before his death. The letters stand as a companion to Stashower's Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle, which relates the details of Conan Doyle's medical career, his enlistment in the Boer War, his attempts to stand for Parliament, and the untimely death of his son, Kingsley. This latter event deepened Doyle's interest in spiritualism, for which he became an avid crusader. The text is illustrated with portraits and photographs as well as reproductions of manuscript pages and early editions; the editors place the letters in context with copious annotations. An invaluable addition to public and academic libraries.-Alison M. Lewis, formerly with Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle was a man of many talents. Besides being a celebrated author, he was a physician, a sportsman, an advocate for criminal and social justice, a war correspondent, a military historian, and, late in life, a spokesman and activist for a new religion, spiritualism. All those aspects of him are reflected by this massive and annotated collection of previously unpublished letters written from the 1860s, when he was a schoolboy, to the year of his death, 1930. Many were written to his mother, Mary Foley Doyle, to whom he was especially close. The letters trace his development as a writer ( Sherlock Holmes seems to have caught on, he writes his mother) but also deal with subjects including Britain's role in the controversial war in South Africa, domestic politics, the perennial Irish problem, women's suffrage, World War I, and the coming of the automobile. Born in Scotland to parents of Irish descent, he thought of himself as an Englishman, albeit one acutely conscious of his diverse ethnic makeup. To fill in the blanks left by Doyle's sloppiness with dates, the editors, all Doyle scholars, provide commentary and a narrative continuum. A towering academic achievement, this is also an essential item for anyone interested in Doyle, his work, and his era.--Sawyers, June Copyright 2007 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly This fascinating collection of previously unpublished letters from the creator of Sherlock Holmes offers a revealing glimpse of a Renaissance man fated to be overshadowed by his most famous character. Beginning with correspondence from Doyle as an eight-year-old in 1867, the editors offer a warts-and-all picture of his life until 1920, 10 years before his death, covering the author's frank accounts of life at a boarding school, his struggles as a young doctor and aspiring writer, and his political advocacy. Those seeking insights into the creation of Holmes may be disappointed; while Doyle's ambivalence toward Holmes is well known, this collection reveals the extent to which he viewed his character principally as a source of income rather than a lasting legacy. The editors-Doyle experts Lellenberg and Stashower, and Doyle's great-nephew Foley-have nicely balanced the content: the letters reveal Doyle's stiff upper lip when he lost a son during the Great War, and his sense of humor, as in a hilarious report to his mother on the birth of his daughter Mary. This will be essential reading for all fans of Conan Doyle and his sleuth. (Andrew Lycett's biography of Conan Doyle, The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes, is due from the Free Press this fall.) Illus. (Nov. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2007 (Best Novel)
A Fatal Grace
 Louise Penny
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2006 (Best First Novel)
The Heat of the Moon
 Sandra Parshall
  Click to search this book in our catalog
 
2006 (Best Nonfiction)
Dont Murder your Mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Chris Roerden
2006 (Best Novel)
The Virgin of Small Plains
Click to search this book in our catalog   Nancy Pickard
2005 (Best First Novel)
Better off Wed
Click to search this book in our catalog   Laura Durham
 
2005 (Best Non-Fiction)
Girl Sleuth
 Melanie Rehak

Publishers Weekly The intrepid Nancy Drew has given girls a sense of their own power since she was born, Athena-like, from the mind of Edward Stratemeyer in 1929 and raised after his death in 1930 by his daughter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Mildred Wirt Benson, a journalist who was the first to write the novels under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Poet and critic Rehak invigorates all the players in the Drew story, and it's truly fun to see behind the scenes of the girl sleuth's creation, her transformation as different writers took on the series, and the publishing phenomenon-the highly productive Stratemeyer Syndicate machine-that made her possible. Rehak's most ambitious choice is to reflect on how Nancy Drew mirrors girls' lives and the ups and downs of the women's movement. This approach is compelling, but not particularly well executed. Rehak's breathless prose doesn't do justice to the complexity of the large social trends she describes, and tangents into Feminism 101 derail the story that really works-the life of a publishing juggernaut. All the same, Stratemeyer himself would undoubtedly say that the story is worth telling. Drew fans are likely to agree. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice In 1975, on the rebound from writing a dissertation on Vladimir Nabokov, Bobbie Ann Mason wrote The Girl Sleuth, in which she provided a feminist discussion of the literary girl sleuth who has fascinated generations of readers. At least a half dozen other books followed Mason's pioneering study (e.g., Nancy Drew and Company, ed. by Sherrie Inness, CH, Dec'97, 35-1995), and an entire academic conference was devoted to Nancy Drew in 1993. Rehak (a poet and freelance critic) focuses on Mildred Augustine and Harriet Stratemeyer, the creators of the Nancy Drew character. Augustine wrote many of the books, following a formula provided by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book packager that offered this and other juvenile series. Stratemeyer, as head of the syndicate after the death of her father, guarded Nancy Drew jealously and sometimes conflicted with Augustine. Based on thorough archival research, Rehak's book is fascinating and readable. Particularly valuable are the historical and literary contexts the author builds for each decade of the 20th century; this material serves as background for the story of the two authors, for the issues facing women at that time, and for attitudes toward children's literature. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. E. R. Baer Gustavus Adolphus College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Book list For 75 years, reading Nancy Drew mysteries has been a literary rite of passage for millions of young girls. In this lively offering, poet and critic Rehak tells the tale of the creative trio behind the celebrated pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Children's book mogul Edward Stratemeyer powered the extraordinarily successful Stratemeyer Syndicate (the character of Nancy Drew, the copper-haired teen sleuth who tackled cases with passion and panache, was but one of his creations, which included the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys). His daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, was the well-to-do mother of two who took over the business upon his death. ?And enterprising Iowa journalist Mildred Wirt Benson, the original voice of Nancy Drew, devoted decades of her life to ghostwriting titles for the series. Both Harriet and Mildred were talented, driven women who challenged the domestic labels affixed to them. Even at the age of 93, Mildred was described as having "a tangle of white curls and the dismissive air of Robert DeNiro." Packed with revealing anecdotes, Rehak's meticulously researched account of the publishing phenomenon that survived the Depression and WWII (and was even feted by feminists in the 1960s) will delight fans of the beloved gumshoe whose gumption guaranteed that every reprobate got his due. Read this alongside Greenwald's The Secret of the Hardy Boys 0 (2004), about another Stratemeyer ghostwriter, Leslie McFarlane, the voice of the first 16 Hardy Boys novels. --Allison Block Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal The story behind everyone's favorite girl sleuth. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Adult/High School-As much a social history of the times as a book about the popular series, this is a fun title that will appeal to older teens who remember the series fondly. In 1930, she arrived in her shiny blue roadster and she has remained a part of the children's book scene ever since. While Nancy may have been the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the successful Stratemeyer Syndicate, it was the devotion of Harriet, his daughter, and syndicate writer Mildred Wirt Benson who brought her to life. The series succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams but things were not always peaceful in River Heights. Rehak does a good job of explaining the intricacies of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and the sometimes-rocky relationship between these two strong women, each of whom felt a sense of ownership of the girl detective. Those who followed the many adventures of Nancy Drew and her friends will be fascinated with the behind-the-scene stories of just who Carolyn Keene really was.-Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2005 (Best Novel)
The Body in the Snowdrift
 Katherine Hall Page
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2004 (Best First Novel)
Dating Dead Men
 Harley Jane Kozak

Publishers Weekly Even Stephanie Plum's antics will seem sedate after readers make the acquaintance of Los Angeles's own Wollie Shelley, greeting card designer and small business owner. Wollie is dating 40 men in 60 days as part of a research project for a bestselling radio personality; the $5,000 fee could help her struggling store, "Wollie's Welcome! Greetings." In particular, Wollie's worried about inspections from national headquarters, who want to ensure that her franchise is up to standard. Her already full plate gets loaded up further when her paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B., who resides at a mental hospital called Rio Pescado, phones to tell her he's witnessed a murder. The last thing Wollie wants is to call the police, so she dashes off to Rio Pescado. On the way she finds a dead body. At the hospital she picks up a charismatic stranger, "Doc," who's on the run, and Wollie can't help getting herself mixed up in his troubles as well. Juggling dates, avoiding the bad guys on Doc's trail, trying to keep her store up to snuff and figuring out what to feed the ferret Doc left in her care have Wollie hopping at a pace reminiscent of the best 1930s screwball film comedies. Kozak has struck gold first time out with a wacky, high-octane plot and characters to match. Agent, Amy Schiffman. (Jan. 20) Forecast: As an actress whose screen credits include Parenthood and When Harry Met Sally, Kozak is in a good position to promote this first novel, especially on the West Coast. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Poor Wollie Shelley. She's desperately trying to make sure her card store, Wollie's Welcome, will stay in business. It figures her schizophrenic brother, P. B., would call while the store inspector was visiting and claim he's witnessed a murder. Wollie drives to the hospital where P. B. is, and sure enough, she stumbles across a dead body. She also runs into a man disguised as a doctor, who uses her to help him escape from the hospital. Only after they've eluded hospital security does Doc mention he's being pursued by the Mafia, although he won't say why. Wollie wants to help him, but his problems are starting to take over her life. She still has the store, and she's also participating in a dating program run by a radio personality, but it's hard for Wollie to focus on the men she's going out with when the Mafia is dogging her every move. Worse yet, she might actually be falling for Doc.ozak's debut is a lively, funny romp for fans of lighthearted mysteries. --Kristine Huntley Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Actually, greeting-card artist Wollie Shelley is dating 40 live men in 60 days to help a celebrated talk-show host research her next book. But when Wollie encounters one very dead man and a putative doctor trying to escape the Mob, the fun begins to fly. Actor Kozak seems to be making a cinematic debut. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal All greeting card artist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wants to do is get the status of her franchise card shop upgraded, go out on dates, and take care of her institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B. But life for Wollie isn't as simple as it appears. Corporate spies could appear at any moment. Her social life is dictated by a research project for a radio celebrity psychotherapist who's paying Wollie to date 40 men in 60 days. And her brother has called to tell her that there's been a murder at his mental hospital. To top it all off, Wollie has finally met the man of her dreams, but he's on the run from gangsters and the law, and may or may not be involved in a killing. There's never a dull moment in this rollicking caper, an exuberant, fun-filled roller-coaster ride worthy of Stephanie Plum. Kozak, a talented actress who's appeared in such films as Parenthood and When Harry Met Sally, will inevitably be compared favorably to Janet Evanovich-Kozak's humor, voice, and pacing is quite similar. This incredible debut novel is the first in a series of dating mysteries, and libraries of all sizes will want it for their collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/03.]-Shelley Mosley, Glendale P.L., AZ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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2004 (Best Juvenile)
Chasing Vermeer
Click to search this book in our catalog   Blue Balliett

Publishers Weekly Puzzles nest within puzzles in this ingeniously plotted and lightly delivered first novel that, revolving around the heist of a Vermeer painting, also touches on the nature of coincidence, truth, art and similarly meaty topics. Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay become friends in sixth grade at a school operated by the University of Chicago (Balliett taught at the University's Lab Schools), both of them independent thinkers excited by their maverick teacher, Ms. Hussey. For reasons unknown to her students, the teacher asks her class to ponder the importance of letters (the epistolary sort) and to mull over Picasso's ideas about art as "a lie that tells the truth." Readers have the edge on the characters, being privy to an enigmatic letter sent to three unidentified persons outlining a centuries-old "crime" against a painter's artistic legacy. These mysteries deepen exponentially when someone steals a Vermeer masterpiece and holds it hostage, demanding scholarly redress for misattributions within Vermeer's small oeuvre. The art mystery and the crisp intelligence of the prose immediately recall E.L. Konigsburg, but Balliett is an original: her protagonists also receive clues through dreams, pentominoes (math tools with alphabetic correspondences), secret codes (including some left to readers to decipher) and other deliberately non-rational devices. Helquist (the Lemony Snicket books) compounds the fun with drawings that incorporate the pentomino idea to supply visual clues as well. Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Gr. 5-8. The Westing Game, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--how exciting to find a book that conjures up these innovative, well-loved titles. That's exactly what Balliett does in her debut novel, which mixes mystery, puzzles, possibilities, and art. The story is set in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood at the University of Chicago's Lab School, where Balliett was a teacher. There, outsiders Petra and Calder become friends as they try to find out what happened to a missing Vermeer painting. That's really all the plot one needs to know. More important are Balliett's purpose in writing and the way she has structured her story. The former seems to be to get to children to think--about relationships, connections, coincidences, and the subtle language of artwork. To accomplish this, she peppers her story with seemingly random events that eventually come together in a startling, delightful pattern. The novel isn't perfect. It glides over a few nitty-gritty details (how did the thief nab the picture), and occasionally the coincidences seem more silly than serendipitous. However, these are quibbles for a book that offers children something new upon each reading. Adults who understand the links between children's reading and their developing minds and imaginations will see this as special, too. Helquist, who has illustrated the Lemony Snickett books, outdoes himself here, providing an interactive mystery in his pictures. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Fans of Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game (Dutton, 1978) and E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Turtleback, 1967) will welcome this novel about two classmates determined to solve the mystery of a missing painting. Brainy 12-year-olds Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay attend the University of Chicago Laboratory School where their teacher's unorthodox methods make learning an adventure. When Vermeer's A Lady Writing disappears on its way to exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, the two overcome their adolescent awkwardness and let their friendship bloom, pooling their talents to rescue the masterpiece and expose the thief. Many elements play a role in unraveling the secrets surrounding the crime: Calder's set of pentominoes; his encoded correspondence with his friend Tommy about a missing boy named Frog; and Petra's intuitive communing with the woman in the painting, all augmented by the unusual ideas presented in a strange old book that Petra has found. Balliett also provides lots of plot twists and red herrings along the way. Helquist's atmospheric black-and-white illustrations add to the fun, incorporating clues to a secret message, the answer to which can be found on the publisher's Web site. Puzzles, codes, letters, number and wordplay, a bit of danger, a vivid sense of place, and a wealth of quirky characters enrich the exciting, fast-paced story that's sure to be relished by mystery lovers.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2004 (Best Novel)
Birds of a Feather
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jacqueline Winspear

Book list Sinking into a novel this good is as satisfying as sinking into a good leather chair: we know we are in for the duration, and it feels right. Although alert readers will probably tease out the murderer about halfway through, the journey is worth it, for we are in the company of Maisie Dobbs, a P.I. who bears the scars of service as a nurse in the Great War. When the owner of a chain of London food halls hires her to find his daughter, Maisie is intrigued as Charlotte Waite is in her thirties and has run away before. Then several women with ties to Charlotte are murdered--morphine and a bayonet to the heart. Maisie teases this all out while practicing both the careful observance and interior meditation her mentor has taught her. Maisie, who has gone from being in service to a graduate of Girton at Cambridge, is as intelligent and engaging a sleuth as one might desire: the period touches, from clothing to manners, are not only elegantly presented but unostentatious. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The eponymous heroine of Winspear's promising debut, Maisie Dobbs (2003), continues to beguile in this chilling, suspenseful sequel set in England a decade after the end of the Great War. Maisie, "Psychologist and Investigator," as the brass nameplate on her office door declares, gets hired by a wealthy industrialist to find his only daughter, Charlotte Waite, who has gone missing. With the help of her cockney assistant, Billy Beale, Maisie sets out to learn all she can of Charlotte's habits, character and friends. No sooner has Maisie discovered the identities of three of these friends than they start turning up dead-poisoned, then bayoneted for good measure. At each crime scene is left a white feather. Increasingly preoccupied with these tragedies, Maisie almost loses sight of her original mission, until it becomes apparent that the murders and Charlotte's disappearance are related. As in her first novel, the author gives an intelligent and absorbing picture of the period, providing plentiful details for the history buff without detracting from the riveting mystery. Readers will be eager to see more of the spunky Maisie, with her unusual career as a one-time maid, nurse and university student. Agent, Amy Rennert. (June 15) Forecast: A Top Ten Book Sense 76 pick for 2003, Maisie Dobbs has been nominated for both Agatha and Edgar awards. A win of either of these in late May, followed by a national author tour, will help propel sales of Birds of a Feather. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal In this follow-up to Winspear's Edgar Award-nominated Maisie Dobbs, her most unusual P.I. has been hired to find the missing daughter of a wealthy London magnate. As Maisie and her Cockney assistant, Billy Beale, try to track Charlotte Waite down, they discover that three of her old friends have been murdered-poisoned and then bayoneted. Did Charlotte run away to escape an overbearing father, or did she flee out of fear? Are the crimes connected to the Great War? Unlike the first book, which was a fascinating portrait of a young woman moving from servitude to independence, this is more a traditional mystery ? la Dorothy Sayers. But Winspear doesn't stint on the intriguing historical and social details that made her debut so compelling. She deftly captures Maisie's Upstairs, Downstairs dilemma of living in a class-ridden society: the former housemaid still feels "like a citizen of two countries, neither here nor there, but always somewhere in the middle." Strongly recommended for most mystery collections.-Wilda Williams, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Adult/High School-The spirited heroine of Maisie Dobbs (Soho, 2003) is back to solve another puzzle in post-World War I London. Having been trained by a master detective, the former serving girl now a Cambridge graduate is hired by grocery magnate Joseph Waite to find his wayward daughter, Charlotte. What begins as a simple missing-person case evolves into the investigation of three murders, all of young women who were friends during the war. Charlotte may be the next target. Chock-full of period details such as how to start a 1920s-era MG, what to buy at the grocer's, what to wear in the country, soup kitchens, and heroin use, the novel follows Maisie's progress as she uses detection, psychology, and even yogalike centering to clear her mind. There is much substance to this mystery, which mines the situations brought about by the horrors of the war-both on the front and at home, and its still simmering aftermath-plus a hint of romance and the beginning resolution of two father-daughter rifts. The story flows easily, descriptions are vivid and apt, and character is limned quickly, with each an individual. This is an utterly enjoyable and painless history lesson and a well-plotted and consistent mystery that will appeal to teens looking for more than just historical fiction.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2003 (Best Novel)
Letter From Home
Click to search this book in our catalog   Carolyn Hart

Library Journal A letter from her Oklahoma hometown spirits famous journalist Gretchen Gilman back to 1944, when someone murdered Faye Tatum. People believed Faye's husband, jealous of her flirtations, did it and then disappeared. Gilman believed otherwise and set out for proof. A solid standalone work from the author of the "Death on Demand" series. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Hart has created a fabulous two-in-one: an excellent mystery and the poignant memoirs of her heroine, Gretchen Grace Gilman. A letter received by the now elderly newshound extraordinaire returns her physically, mentally and emotionally to her past and to her hometown in northeastern Oklahoma. As the pages of the letter unfold, so does the story of Gretchen's summer of 1944. With every able-bodied male involved in the war effort, Gazette editor Walt Dennis agrees to give 13-year-old Gretchen a shot as a newspaper reporter. But the sleepy town is soon rocked by the murder of Faye Tatum, an artist and the mom of Gretchen's friend and neighbor Barb. To make matters worse, the prime suspect is Barb's dad, Clyde, home on leave but nowhere to be found after the murder. Political ambitions spur the county attorney and the sheriff to track down Clyde and arrest him, while less hasty Chief Fraser is more interested in first sorting through all the facts. The obviously well-researched history draws the reader into this atypical whodunit. Characters are Steinbeck vivid, as is the sense of time and place. Hart masterfully portrays an American small town during WWII. (Oct. 7) FYI: Hart is the author of April Fool Dead (2002) and other titles in her Death on Demand mystery series, as well as Resort to Murder (2001) and other titles in her Henrie O series. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2003 (Best First Novel)
Maisie Dobbs
 Jacqueline Winspear

Publishers Weekly In Winspear's inspired debut novel, a delightful mix of mystery, war story and romance set in WWI-era England, humble housemaid Maisie Dobbs climbs convincingly up Britain's social ladder, becoming in turn a university student, a wartime nurse and ultimately a private investigator. Both na?ve and savvy, Maisie remains loyal to her working-class father and many friends who help her along the way. Her first sleuthing case, which begins as a simple marital infidelity investigation, leads to a trail of war-wounded soldiers lured to a remote convalescent home in Kent from which no one seems to emerge alive. The Retreat, specializing in treating badly deformed battlefield casualties, is run by an apparently innocuous former officer who requires his patients to sign over their assets to his tightly run institution. At different points in her remarkable career, Maisie crosses paths with a military surgeon to whom she's attracted despite his disfigurement from a bomb blast at the front. A refreshing heroine, appealing secondary characters and an absorbing plot, marred only by a somewhat bizarre conclusion, make Winspear a new writer to watch. Agent, Amy Rennert. (July 9) Forecast: Blurbs from Elizabeth George and Charles Todd will alert their readers to the quality of this book, which ought to draw mainstream and romance readers as well. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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School Library Journal Adult/High School-Maisie is 14 when her mother dies, and she must go into service to help her father make ends meet. Her prodigious intellect and the fact that she is sneaking into the manor library at night to read Hume, Kierkegaard, and Jung alert Lady Rowan to the fact that she has an unusual maid. She arranges for Maisie to be tutored, and the girl ultimately qualifies for Cambridge. She goes for a year, only to be drawn by the need for nurses during the Great War. After serving a grueling few years in France and falling in love with a young doctor, Maisie puts up a shingle in 1929 as a private investigator. She is a perceptive observer of human nature, works well with all classes, and understands the motivations and demons prevalent in postwar England. Teens will be drawn in by her first big case, seemingly a simple one of infidelity, but leading to a complex examination of an almost cultlike situation. The impact of the war on the country is vividly conveyed. A strong protagonist and a lively sense of time and place carry readers along, and the details lead to further thought and understanding about the futility and horror of war, as well as a desire to hear more of Maisie. This is the beginning of a series, and a propitious one at that.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal From its dedication to the author's paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother, who were both injured during World War I, to its powerful conclusion, this is a poignant and compelling story that explores war's lingering and insidious impact on its survivors. The book opens in spring 1929 as Maisie Dobbs opens an office dedicated to "discreet investigations" and traverses back and forth between her present case and the long shadows cast by World War I. What starts out as a plea by an anxious husband for Maisie to discover why his wife regularly lies about her whereabouts turns into a journey of discovery whose answers and indeed whose very questions lie in a quiet rural cemetery where many war dead are buried. In Maisie, Winspear has created a complex new investigator who, tutored by the wise Maurice Blanche, recognizes that in uncovering the actions of the body, she is accepting responsibility for the soul. British-born but now living in America, first novelist Winspear writes in simple, effective prose, capturing the post-World War I era effectively and handling human drama with compassionate sensitivity while skillfully avoiding cloying sentimentality. At the end, the reader is left yearning for more discreet investigations into the nature of what it means to feel truth. Highly recommended.-Caroline Hallsworth, City of Greater Sudbury, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2003 (Best Juvenile)
The 7th Knot
 Kathleen Karr

Book list Gr. 6-9. Karr offers an offbeat turn-of-the-last-century novel that dances on the edge of the fantastical. Fifteen-year-old Wick, who has already developed a taste for gambling and cigars, and his 12-year-old brother, Miles, a budding scientific genius, are banished by their mother to a European grand tour with their uncle Eustace. The boys do not find Uncle Eustace's pursuit of art, particularly the woodcuts of Durer, particularly engaging, but their uncle's scholarly and mysterious valet soon changes their minds. When he vanishes, the boys give chase, and their escapades take them across Europe to Mad Ludwig's remarkable castle, to a wild journey in a hot-air balloon, to entanglement in a secret society that hints of Germany's future Aryan obsession. Durer's knot woodcuts (hence the title) and the secret society add weight to the adventures, which combine delightful elements of Indiana Jones, Around the World in 80 Days, and P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster stories. A good, fast read that leaves the door open for sequels. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7-9-In this historical mystery, brothers Wick and Miles are sent to spend the summer with their rich Uncle Eustace, an 1890s robber baron touring Europe to purchase "High Art." After Eustace's mysterious valet, Jose Gregorio, is kidnapped, the brothers follow his trail and become involved with the Durerbund, a nationalistic secret society that honors painter Albrecht Durer. In a series of adventures involving dungeons, explosions, airships, and secret rooms, the brothers are reunited with Jose, and they race across Europe to stop the Durerbund before its plans to conquer Europe come to fruition. The action-filled, fast-paced plot and maturing of the boys from delinquents into heroes-and their interest in nude paintings-will appeal to a wide audience. While background characters remain caricatures, Wick, Miles, and Jose are fully human and entertaining. Karr smoothly integrates information about Durer and other painters into the plot, and she uses the historical Durerbund, with its shades of Nazism, to good effect. The well-crafted plot and nonstop action will catch readers' attention from the first chapter and lead them to the satisfying conclusion, and they may even be motivated to look at an art book or two.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2002 (Best Novel)
Youve Got Murder
 Donna Andrews

Publishers Weekly In a detour from her first three outings featuring the delightful Meg Langslow (Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos, etc.), Andrews pulls her quirky new sleuth, Turing Hopper, from cyberspace. Turing, named for AI pioneer Alan Turing, is an AIP Artificial Intelligence Personality and the star of a vast number of research programs housed at Universal Library (UL) in Crystal City outside Washington, D.C. Turing's personalized banter with her customers is so down to earth she seems almost real, and she herself begins to believe she's becoming sentient. When her programmer, Zach Malone, mysteriously disappears, Turing suspects foul play and explores every avenue within her capabilities to find him. Needing human aid, she asks Tim Pincoski, UL's "Xeroxcist," and Maude Graham, secretary to a UL executive, for help. Programming an investigation takes Turing beyond her limited form and all three into corporate espionage, danger and murder. UL surveillance cameras are everywhere, and Turing's capacity to invade files and data in almost every area scarily evokes Big Brother. Without a doubt, this is a unique effort executed with great skill. The high-tech investigation, Turing's plan for herself and her ruminations about becoming almost human are sure to engage computer buffs everywhere. Fans looking for the lighthearted, humorous romps of the author's earlier books, however, may be disappointed. (Apr. 2) Forecast: Blurbs from the disparate likes of biographer Daniel Stashower, regionalist Earlene Fowler and Edgar-winner Steve Hamilton should help propel this unusual entry from Agatha and Anthony awards-winner Andrews onto genre bestseller lists. The loss of some cozy readers could be more than made up for by a crossover boost from SF fans at home with computer technology. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2002 (Best First Novel)
In the Bleak Midwinter
Click to search this book in our catalog   Julia Spencer-Fleming
2002 (Best Juvenile)
Red Card: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Daniel J. Hale

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Ezekial Tobias Armstrong, a soccer whiz and mystery sleuth, helps to find out who is trying to kill his coach while they are playing a tournament in Dallas. Zeke also helps to hold his teammates together as they move through the competition without their coach, who has been hospitalized. The constant action and excitement of the play-by-play, the mystery, and Zeke's first-person narration should hold readers' attention. As in many novels for young people, the adults don't appear too bright. While knowledge of soccer is not necessary to understand the descriptions, it helps.-Janice C. Hayes, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2001 (Best Novel)
Murphys Law
Click to search this book in our catalog   Rhys Bowen

Book list Nimble of plot and fleet in the telling, Bowen's latest begins a new series starring the plucky Molly Murphy. Hiding her fiery red hair but not her audacious ways, Molly escapes from her Irish village after inadvertently causing the death of the young laird who tried to rape her. She finds herself in possession of a steerage ticket to New York and the custody of two small children when the kids' consumptive mother begs her to deliver the youngsters to their father in New York. The passage to America and the tumultuous events of Ellis Island, where another murder takes place, are vividly described, as is Molly's negotiation of the Cherry Street Irish ghetto, Hell's Kitchen, and the children's overwhelmed Da and his unsavory relatives. Run-ins with the police and Tammany Hall are only a few of Molly's adventures. The murder is solved in unorthodox ways, Molly finds love and work, and there's promise of more adventures. History-mystery fans should add Molly to their lists of characters to follow. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Mosley's first foray into writing science fiction since Blue Light (LJ 10/1/98), these interrelated stories, set in the near future, read as a natural but chilling extension of our present. From child genius Ptolemy Bent, sentenced to prison for euthanizing his grandmother and uncle, to female boxer Fera, who becomes a feminist icon for the 21st century, his characters battle for both personal survival and a chance to turn back the clock. In this futuristic world, privacy is little but a memory and prejudice and suspicion still sour race relations. Mosley's reputation as the best-selling author of the Easy Rawlins mysteries may entice a number of his regular readers to pick up this book, where they will find some of the same bleak outlook, flashes of insight, and true-to-life African American characters. An additional audience will come from iPublish.com, where the first two stories were previously published as e-books. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] Rachel Singer Gordon, Franklin Park P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly The prolific Bowen, creator of Welsh constable Evan Evans (Evan Can Wait; Evan and Elle; etc.), relies a bit too much on coincidence but conveys a nice sense of place and period in this debut of a new historical series with its spunky, 19th-century Irish heroine, Molly Murphy. Defending herself from the unwelcome advances of the local landowner's son, Molly accidentally kills him and flees her village to escape hanging. She heads for the anonymity of London, where a twist of fate introduces her to Kathleen O'Connor. Kathleen has two small children and tickets for a ship to America, where she plans to join her husband. But knowing they won't let her on the ship because of her tuberculosis, Kathleen persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America. On board, Molly attracts the loud attentions of a crude, boisterous type named O'Malley. Her public argument with him comes back to haunt her when he is found murdered on Ellis Island; Molly becomes a prime suspect, along with a young man she befriended. The handsome young policeman investigating the case, Daniel Sullivan, appears to believe Molly's protestations of innocence, but Molly decides her she'd better investigate on her own behalf and that of her friend. Wending her way through a vivid, Tammany Hall-era New York, Molly struggles to prove her innocence, aided by one coincidence after another. (Oct. 15) Forecast: Bowen's solid reputation will generate strong sales for this series debut, though Constable Evans fans should beware that the gentle humor of those novels is lacking here. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Library Journal Mosley's first foray into writing science fiction since Blue Light (LJ 10/1/98), these interrelated stories, set in the near future, read as a natural but chilling extension of our present. From child genius Ptolemy Bent, sentenced to prison for euthanizing his grandmother and uncle, to female boxer Fera, who becomes a feminist icon for the 21st century, his characters battle for both personal survival and a chance to turn back the clock. In this futuristic world, privacy is little but a memory and prejudice and suspicion still sour race relations. Mosley's reputation as the best-selling author of the Easy Rawlins mysteries may entice a number of his regular readers to pick up this book, where they will find some of the same bleak outlook, flashes of insight, and true-to-life African American characters. An additional audience will come from iPublish.com, where the first two stories were previously published as e-books. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] Rachel Singer Gordon, Franklin Park P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2001 (Best First Novel)
Bubbles Unbound
 Sarah Strohmeyer

Book list Having studied at the feet of the Master Evanovich, first-novelist Strohmeyer unleashes Lehigh, Pennsylvania's, Bubbles Yablonsky: big hair, big tits, and a big attitude despite a social-climbing ex and a job at the beauty parlor. Bubbles loves to do hair, but she's also working freelance for the local paper, hoping to move herself and her teenage daughter ahead in the world. A 10-year-old murder and a local teacher's attempted suicide spark Bubbles into action, and as if that weren't enough, there's a photographer, a Mel Gibson look-alike named--wait for it--Stiletto. The outlandishly intricate plot has more layers than Bubbles' makeup, but she kindly includes step-by-step instructions for soothing foot care and her daughter's Kool-Aid hair dye. It all comes out in the end, and Bubbles keeps Stiletto, er, hanging. A confection held together with gossip and hairspray. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Meet Bubbles Yablonsky, beautician-reporter-sleuth and blazing star of Strohmeyer's entertaining, establishment-bashing debut as a mystery writer. Like the mills that gird the book's seen-better-days steel town of Lehigh, Pa., the city is itself a seething cauldron. Battle lines are sharply drawn between the haves and have-nots. Bubbles is hell-bent on getting even with the overlords, especially her former husband, a heel who has gone over to the other side. Opportunity knocks when Bubbles incriminates a wealthy socialite in a brutal murder and then uncovers a murky past, where corpses are littered around the accused's steel-magnate husband. The going is never easy, as Bubbles faces more perils than Pauline: falling off a bridge in the arms of a potential suicide; dodging drive-by gunmen and car bombers; being handcuffed and fitted for cement boots; and always searching for a better way to display her cleavage. Armed with her certificate from Two Guys Community College, abetted by a quirky array of social castoffs and fueled by Doritos, Velveeta and Diet Pepsi, Bubbles overcomes every obstacle on her way to shaking the foundations of the corporate world and, in the process, leaving more than a few wrinkles in her ex's tailored Brooks Brothers suits. Hop in the Camaro and buckle up: Bubbles is behind the wheel, and a wild ride awaits. Agent, Heather Schroder at ICM. (Mar. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Library Journal Bubbles Yablonsky, a 34-year-old hairdresser/divorcee, may dress and look like a blonde Barbie-doll bimbo, but she aspires to a more brain-intensive job as an investigative journalist. She grabs her main chance when she and a hunky but elusive photographer named Stiletto discover a dead bodyDalong with the apparent perpetrator, who is drunk and just happens to be the antidrug-crusading wife of a local steel magnate. Suffice to say, Bubbles's revelatory story causes endless repercussions. A sexy, irrepressible heroine, riotous supporting characters, continual action, ubiquitous humor, and even a makeup tip or two make this a highly recommended series debut. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2001 (Best Juvenile)
The Mystery of the Haunted Caves
 Penny Warner
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2000 (Best Novel)
Mariners Compass
 Earlene Fowler

Library Journal In order to inherit a house from a man she never met, series protagonist Benni Harper (Dove in the Window, Prime Crime: Berkley, 1998) must spend two weeks alone in it. There, the folk art museum curator and sleuth follows mysterious clues her benefactor left behind. For series fans. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly A bizarre inheritance, a dangerous quest and a political battle are the main events of Benni Harper's captivating sixth adventure (after Dove in the Window). Benni's work at the San Celina Folk Art Museum is interrupted when she unexpectedly inherits the estate of a stranger named Jacob Chandler. His house in Morro Bay is worth $200,000, but Chandler's will stipulates that Benni can keep the windfall only if she lives in the house for two weeksÄalone. As expected, her protective husband, police chief Gabe, is none too happy about this development. But Benni is unwilling to turn down the money, and more important, her curiosity is piqued. After all, why would someone she'd never met make her his sole heir, especially when it turns out that many others were expecting to benefit from his death? To find the answer, Benni embarks on a dangerous search for Chandler's motives, following a series of cryptic notes that he's left for her all over California. Meanwhile, Gabe has his hands full keeping peace between San Celina's mayor and Benni's formidable Gramma Dove, who leads a sit-in at the Historical Museum to thwart the mayor's plan to convert it into a restaurant. As Benni's inquiries lead to unsettling information about her mother, who died when Benni was six, Fowler captures her plucky heroine's secret anxieties, but offsets them with a good dose of humor. Benni's need to know the truth about her family imbues the novel with alluring intimacy and suspense. And Chandler's penchant for wood carving provokes engaging descriptions of that craft, which accompany Fowler's usual bits on quilting and food. Chandler's puzzles test Benni's relationships with her husband, father and grandmother in this excellent addition to a notable series. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Book list Ex-cowgirl and California Central Coast resident Benni Harper has inherited the house of Jacob Chandler, a man she never met. Chandler's will requires Benni to live in the house for two weeks and to solve a mystery. Meanwhile, her grandma Dove and six friends barricade themselves into the Historical Society to thwart a development-oriented mayor, and Benni is pursued by a mysterious assailant. In this sixth Benni Harper novel, Fowler continues to deepen her characters--eccentric and sympathetic Californians and transplanted southerners--and her plotting appears tighter and better organized. There are some surprising and funny moments here, and Fowler's skill in developing a mystery in an interesting community will appeal to fans of Rett McPherson's Veiled Antiquity and Leslie Meier's Valentine Murder [both BKL Je 1 & 15 98]. --John Rowen

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2000 (Best First Novel)
Murder, With Peacocks
Click to search this book in our catalog   Donna Andrews

Library Journal Meg Lanslow, maid of honor for three impending weddings, returns to her Virginia small-town home for the summer in order to arrange the details. Amidst the near disasters, truculent brides-to-be, screwball relatives, and minutiae-filled days, someone kills the rudely annoying sister of her mother's fiancé. Meg's divorced but amicable father, an insatiable busybody and doctor, begins investigating?with assistance from Meg. Loquacious dialog, persistent humor, and interrupted romance brand the 1997 winner of the publisher's "Malice Domestic" contest. A fun, breezy read.

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1999 (Best Novel)
Butchers Hill
Click to search this book in our catalog   Laura Lippman

Publishers Weekly Tess Monaghan, newspaperwoman turned sleuth, makes it official with a new business as a PI in a run-down section of Baltimore, Butchers Hill. Her first clientsÄan elderly man known as the Butcher of Butchers Hill and a highly successful female professional fund-raiserÄpresent the first dilemma. Tess needs a cover, reluctantly supplied by Client 2, in order to get access to information on the ghetto for Client 1. The process of finding diverse missing persons starts Monaghan and her two black clients on sometimes prickly discourse involving race. As in Baltimore Blues and Charm City, dialogue is on the mark, accompanied by lively observations about female entrepreneurship, adoption, foster home rackets, and quirky Baltimore natives and neighborhoods. A bittersweet, perfectly plausible ending winds things up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Library Journal Tess Monaghan leaves her job as a newspaper reporter and becomes a PI in Laura Lippman's Butchers Hill (Avon. 1998. ISBN 978-0-380-79846-9. pap. $6.99). Her first client is Luther Beale, imprisoned for killing a young man he caught vandalizing his car. Beale has recently been released and is looking to make amends. So why are the witnesses to the crime starting to die? This novel was inspired by a real-life Baltimore homicide in which a man shot and killed a 13-year-old boy for throwing rocks at his vehicle. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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1999 (Best First Novel)
The Doctor Digs a Grave
Click to search this book in our catalog   Robin Hathaway

School Library Journal YA-Hathaway introduces sleuth cardiologist Dr. Andrew Fenimore, whose expert medical knowledge helps unravel the mysterious death of a Lenape woman. When Fenimore spots a street kid named Horatio unsuccessfully trying to bury his dead cat in a public park on Philadelphia's affluent Society Hill, he befriends the youth and offers to help him lay his pet to rest in what is rumored to be an ancient burial ground of the Lenape. Descendants of this East Coast tribe still live in the eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey area. While burying the animal, the doctor and Horatio stumble upon the body of a young girl who is buried in an upright position facing east as is traditional with the Lenape. From this curious discovery, Hathaway's novel weaves the forgotten culture of this tribe, the doctor's unconventional avocation as a P.I., and a cast of lovable but eccentric characters into a well-crafted tale of suspense. Young adults will enjoy this witty novel that illuminates in wonderful detail the little-known ways of the Lenape and introduces a physician-detective who is expected to reappear in forthcoming novels.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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1998 (Best Novel)
The Devil in Music
 Kate Ross

Library Journal Ross's historical mysteries featuring English dandy Julian Kestrel (e.g., Whom the Gods Love, LJ 4/1/95) have earned a loyal following. This fourth entry in the series moves Kestrel from his usual London haunts to Milan and moves Ross from trade paperback to hardcover status. While traveling the Continent with his friend, Dr. MacGregor, Kestrel reads of the recent uncovering of a four-year-old murder involving the aristocratic Malvezzi family and decides to try out his investigating skills once again. The victim was Lodovico Malvezzi, a Milanese marquis and famed music lover. Given his imperious manner, suspects are all to easy to find, especially among his family. Added to the mystery of his death are the disappearances of a talented musical protégé of the marquis and a surly servant, various intrigues related to Italian politics, and rebellions. Kestrel is undaunted by these challenges but finds Malvezzi's beautiful young widow a dangerous distraction. While the plotting is not as tight as in previous novels, the final chapters are replete with enough revelations and twists to please Ross's fans and leave them looking forward to the next novel.?Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll., Davidson, N.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly In her fourth novel featuring the sharp-witted English dandy Julian Kestrel, Ross (Whom the Gods Love) adeptly fashions a mystery from lethal family secrets, political strife, passion for great music and an opulent early 19th-century setting. While in Geneva on a continental holiday, Kestrel learns that the death of Marchese Lodovico Malvezzi in Italy some four years earlier was actually a homicide. The chief suspect is Orfeo, a talented young English singer whom Lodovico had been secretly grooming for a brilliant opera career and who disappeared the night of the murder. Kestrel, accompanied by his valet, Dipper (an ex-pickpocket), and his irascible friend Dr. Duncan MacGregor, travels to Milan, in the heart of Austrian-controlled northern Italy. He offers his services to Marchesa Beatrice Malvezzi, the beautiful and quite possibly dangerous young widow, who introduces him to Milanese society. Especially adroit are Ross's scenes at La Scala, where the operas performed on stage are mere backdrops to the social intrigues occurring in the private boxes of the aristocracy. Suspects abound, and Kestrel's principal adversaries are worthy foes. Gaston de la Marque, his rival for the Marchesa's attentions, is a clever and piquant Frenchman whose verbal duels with Kestrel are knife-edged. Commissario Grimani of the Milanese police is also a formidable obstacle, more concerned with a quick solution to impress his Austrian superiors than with finding the real murderer. The large cast, intricate plot and historical setting are all of operatic proportions, yet Ross never loses control of her story. The result is an elegant and finely tuned performance. Author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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1998 (Best First Novel)
The Salarymans Wife
 Sujata Massey
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1997 (Best Novel)
Up Jumps the Devil
 Margaret Maron

Library Journal Maron returns to fictional Colleton County, North Carolina, the setting of The Bootlegger's Daughter (Mysterious, 1992). After someone murders one of Deborah Knott's childhood friends, and then another, suspicion falls on Deborah's father. A winning tale of closeted skeletons and family feuds. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Book list As the pecan trees of the beautiful North Carolina countryside give way to tract housing, land values are escalating rapidly, and all over Colleton County, longtime neighbors and family members are engaged in acrimonious disputes over whether to sell their family land. In this fourth entry in the Deborah Knott series, the straight-talking, down-to-earth district court judge is drawn into two murders tied to greed over land-development money. When childhood friend Dallas Stancil is shot in his own backyard, Deborah upholds southern tradition only to find herself bringing casseroles to the family members responsible for Dallas' death. Then feisty old Jap Stancil is also murdered, and Deborah must deal once again with her first husband, Jap's nephew, whom she married for a brief, disastrous period when she was 18. It's not the plot that is the draw here, though; it's Maron's evocative sense of place, her smooth writing, and her flawed, intelligent heroine. Another fine entry in a solid series. --Joanne Wilkinson

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly With vivid detail and engaging, credible characters, Maron's series featuring North Carolina district court judge Deborah Knott (Edgar winner Bootlegger's Daughter, etc.) brings to life fictional Colleton County and chronicles a charming but rapidly changing South. Here, the background is the suburbanization of the rural countryside less than an hour by superhighway from Raleigh. A few days after Dallas Stancil refuses to sell his land to a speculator, his stepson and wife murder him. Then, Dallas's peripatetic cousin Allen, the devil from Deborah's past, comes to town. Several days later, Dallas's father, Jap, is killed just before he can divide the property between Merrilee Grimes, his late wife's niece, and Allen. So who killed Jap, and who gets the Stancil land?Dallas's widow? Allen? Merrilee and her husband, Pete? Billy Wall, Jap's partner in the produce business? Dick Sutterly, a real estate developer who has a signed deed to Jap's property? Suspicions extend to Deborah's own family when one of her 11 brothers, visiting from California, reveals that he's lost his job and plans to sell his acreage, which abuts Jap's. In the end, the answer derives from a combination of greed, fear and ignorance of the intricate laws of inheritance. Maron eloquently describes different behaviors toward the land, from stewardship to despoliation. The old-fashioned warmth of the extended Knott family and Maron's well-constructed plot make this series a standout. Mystery Guild selection. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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1997 (Best First Novel)
Murder on a Girls Night Out
Click to search this book in our catalog   Anne George

Publishers Weekly A refreshingly different heroine, retired Alabama schoolteacher Patricia Anne Hollowell, is drawn into a murder investigation after her colorful sister, Mary Alice, buys a country-western club. When the previous owner is found gruesomely murdered, the suspects include the club's cook, one of Patricia Anne's former prize students. Sprightly dialogue and a humorous eye for detail get this mystery off to a promising start. However, once the offbeat characters are introduced, they and their relationships fail to change or deepen. The dialogue becomes repetitive, and the telling domestic observations lapse into trivia. Clues accumulate more through coincidence than through investigation, with the conclusion weighed down by a welter of implausible connections and old secrets. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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1996 (Best Novel)
If Id Killed Him When I Met Him
Click to search this book in our catalog   Sharyn McCrumb
1996 (Best First Novel)
The Body in the Transept
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jeanne M. Dams

Publishers Weekly Drawing on American sensibilities and English tradition, Dams's debut introduces widowed American sleuth Dorothy Martin, who will delight lovers of cozies set on both sides of the Atlantic. Dorothy has moved to the fictional university/ cathedral town of Sherebury, where she and her academic husband had planned to retire before his unexpected demise. After the Christmas Eve service in the Cathedral, Dorothy stumbles over the body of Canon Billings. Once she recovers her equilibrium, she finds herself feeling involved in the case and curious about the unpleasant but learned Canon, who had made more enemies than friends. He had recently argued vehemently with his young, hot-headed assistant in the library, had tried to get the choirmaster fired and was gathering evidence against the verger who was stealing from the collection plate. Dorothy charmingly insinuates herself into village life in the best Miss Marple tradition, talking to neighbors and befriending others (including widower Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt) and determinedly pursuing the killer even as she puts herself in danger. With her penchant for colorful hats, Dorothy establishes herself as a fresh, commanding?and always genteel?presence among female elder-sleuths of the '90s. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal This offering from newcomer Dams gleams with all the polish of a quaint English-village mystery. American widow Dorothy Martin, sixtyish and plump, inhabits a picturesque Jacobean house in Sherebury. Feeling low, she attends Christmas Eve services at a nearby cathedral and afterwards trips over the bloody body of a clergyman. Unable to put the matter out of her mind, and in need of something to do, she begins sleuthing. Nicely described small-town antics, a cleverly concocted plot, and a charmingly competent heroine. Recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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1995 (Best Novel)
She Walks These Hills
 Sharym McCrumb

Library Journal A tale of an escaped convict from Edgar Award winner McCrumb.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal YA?Mystery and folklore are skillfully blended in this contemporary Appalachian tale. Driving the plot are ``Harm'' (Hiram) Sorley, an aging prisoner suffering from recent memory loss, who receives a spiritual message to escape from prison and return home to North Carolina; history grad student Jeremy Cobb, who wants to hike the trail used by Katie Wyler in the late 1700s when she escaped from Indians who held her captive; and members of the sheriff's department who search for both of these men. Strong females also figure prominently in this title, not the least of whom is Katie Wyler, dead over 200 years, whose spectral image helps several characters. Assisting Sheriff Arrowwood is his newest deputy, Martha Ayers, who's determined to prove she can rise above the lot of dispatcher. When all these folks converge beside a burning trailer home, more than one mystery is solved. McCrumb's rich use of dialect, accompanied by both physical description of and folklore about the mountains, combine to produce an evocative, haunting story. This novel defies stereotypical mystery elements, offering instead a complete melange of character study, plot, and setting.?Pam Spencer, Chapel Square Media Center, Fairfax County, VA

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly In 1779, Katie Wyler, 18, was captured by the Shawnee in North Carolina. The story of her escape and arduous journey home through hundreds of miles of Appalachian wilderness is the topic of ethno-historian Jeremy Cobb's thesis-and the thread which runs through the third of McCrumb's ballad novels (after The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter). As Cobb begins to retrace Katie's return journey, 63-year-old convicted murderer Hiram (Harm) Sorley escapes from a nearby prison. Suffering from Korsakoff's syndrome, he has no recent memory: old Harm is permanently stuck in the past. Hamelin, Tenn., police dispatcher Martha Ayers uses the opportunity to convince the sheriff to assign her as a deputy. One of her first duties is to calm a young mother who, angry at her inattentive husband, is threatening her baby with a butcher knife. Ayers and the sheriff must also warn Harm's ex-wife Rita that he has escaped. Acting as a kind of narrative conscience is a local deejay, a ``carpetbagger from Connecticut,'' who sees Harm as a folk hero from another era. Deftly building suspense, McCrumb weaves these colorful elements into her satisfying conclusion as she continues to reward her readers' high expectations. Mystery Guild selection; author tour. (Oct.)

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1995 (Best First Novel)
Do Unto Others
 Jeff Abbott

Publishers Weekly Abbott's debut mystery is a bright, often funny portrayal of the social mechanics of a small town, where, as the narrator/accused/detective quickly discovers, everyone has something to hide. Jordan Poteet has left a thriving publishing career back East to return to his home town in Mirabeau, Texas-a town as backward and insulated as any cliché-to care for his ailing mother and work as the local librarian. Quickly, Jordan is accused of the gruesome murder of a nasty, churchgoing town elder who is at odds with the library's ``liberal'' policies. With a redneck assistant D.A. on his heels, Jordan tries to prove his innocence. Abbott is highly skilled and at ease with the twang and tone of Texas folk and often seems in control of his story. The problem is Abbott has stuffed his relatively short book full-too full. He covers almost every hot topic from censorship to religious fanaticism to Alzheimer's to blackmail. The cast of characters is so vast that Abbott is forced to rehash his hero's suspect list more than once, and though the sweetly handled and satisfying romantic subplot stands out, more often readers will find themselves lost in a sea of personalities. While often engaging, Abbott simply weaves too large a web for a small-town tale. It's a little hard to imagine how this once-in-a-lifetime will translate into the series promised by the cover. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Jeff Abbott's Do Unto Others (Ballantine. 1994. ISBN 0-345-38948-4. pap. $6.50) introduces small-town head librarian (though non-MLS) Jordan Poteet, who leaves a Boston publishing job for his Texas home town to care for his ailing mother. Jordan's run-in with local gadfly and ex-library board member Beta Harcher over removing "smut" from the shelves takes an ugly turn when Harcher is found beaten to death in the library. The weapon, a baseball bat, bears Jordan's fingerprints. Fortunately for Jordan, the victim left a list of other potential suspects complete with topical Bible verses. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list When his mama gets Alzheimer's and needs a caregiver, Jordan Poteet leaves his job in Boston to go home to Mirabeau, Texas. Luckily, the job as head of the Mirabeau library opens up, so even though Jordy doesn't have an MLS (gasp!), he's hired. Local harpy Beta Harcher immediately jumps on Jordy's case about the library's owning smut by authors like Twain, Lawrence, and Hawthorne. Unfortunately, the day after she and Jordy have a big argument, the woman is found bludgeoned to death, and Jordy ends up tops on Sheriff "Junebug" Moncrief's suspect list. Jordy knows he didn't kill Beta, and he doesn't want to end up in the pokey, so he decides to find the murderer. Abbott's writing is folksy and full of cornpone humor, and the plot is one of those every-small-town-has-secrets types, but there are some nice comic touches, Jordy is a likable fellow, the action is flashy, and the ending is heartwarming. And it's always nice to encounter a librarian-sleuth, even one sadly lacking in professional credentials. ~--Emily ~Melton

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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