By Mary Lou Kirwin
Middle-aged Minnesota librarian Karen Nash had a dream come true in Killer Librarian, the opening book in this traditional mystery series by Mary Lou Kirwin. She went on the trip of a lifetime to England, even though the guy she was going to go with dumped her the day of the flight, flew over to London with a younger, prettier woman and ended up dead.
Still, it all worked out. Karen figured out who did in the guy who done her wrong and met the possible love of her life in Caldwell Perkins. He owns the B&B where she ended up staying on her first trip, but what his main passion is collecting books.
In this second entry in the series, Karen has returned to London while she and Caldwell figure out if they should merge their book collections, so to speak. He wants to sell the B&B and set up a bookshop, with Karen as his partner as well as signficant other.
But before they have even found a place to set up shop, Caldwell's past comes back at a most inopportune time. His former lover Sally Burroughs ditched him, leaving the B&B and disappearing for nearly seven years. Now she shows up with an Italian boyfriend, determined to make Caldwell buy her out.
Even while Caldwell and Karen are processing this information, former girlfriend Sally ends up under a bookcase that was toppled onto her. The coppers suspect both Karen and Caldwell, so mystery book lover Karen is determined to find out who really did Sally in to clear both of their names.
The mystery proceeds as an honest country house-style mystery in which a limited number of suspects, most seeming to have a motive to murder, are within cramped quarters. The B&B setting works very well to bring together Sally's new boyfriend, her sister, a book lover visiting London, the B&B's only employee, Caldwell and our heroine.
The whodunot is the strongest part of the novel. It would fit within the fair play rules set up by the Detection Club (including Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton and E.C. Bentley) and rolls along at a nice pace.
The author also shows her knowledge of classic crime fiction, weaving in information about Christie works and other tidbits without committing the faux pas of information dumps.
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