In Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay, after 10 years as a college librarian, Lindsey Norris has taken over as director of the library at Briar Creek. Her grad school roommate, Beth, works there as the popular children’s librarian and has worked hard for several years to write a children’s story that the library patrons love and are eager to see get published. However, Beth’s boyfriend of five years, an award-winning children’s book writer tries to stop her from seeing an editor who comes to town and breaks up with her when she refuses to obey his demands. Then, the next day, when Beth meets with the editor, the woman accuses her of plagiarizing her book because the exact same book is about to be published by her now-ex-boyfriend.
As soon as she learns that her book has been stolen by her ex-boyfriend, Beth determines to confront him and hires a boat to take her to the nearby island where he lives, only to discover his body, stabbed and with the word “Liar” written across his face. The boat captain calls the police, but the arrival of Chief Daniels presages problems because the oafish officer immediately decides Beth committed the murder, and since Lindsey and the boat captain were two or three minutes behind Beth in entering the house, Beth has no alibi. The state sends a detective, but Chief Daniels keeps pushing the issue, determined to prove his masculinity by showing that he has solved the murder immediately.
With Beth under such suspicion and hounded by the press, Lindsey must use her library researching skills to get Beth out of trouble, discovering all sorts of disturbing things about the victim along the way.
This book has a great premise of a librarian’s using her research skills to solve a murder. I liked the insertion of references to books and the description of the library and its programs. I especially liked the concept of “crafternoon,” where a group of women get together to work on their own individual crafts, in this case knitting, while discussing their selection of a book of the week. The end of the book even has suggestions on how to start your own crafternoon gatherings.
The one thing I did not like is a problem common to cozy mysteries, that the professional law enforcement personnel are incompetent, so the amateurs must show them how it is done. Since most cozy mysteries do center around amateurs, this premise makes it easy for the writer to set up such an arrangement, but I don’t like the disrespect this shows to our trained men and women who serve to protect us and sometimes even give their lives for us. While this is a common element in cozy mysteries, this is one of the worst examples of an inept police force.
The audio edition of this book is narrated by Allyson Ryan, who kept me interested.
Overall, despite my complaint about the portrayal of the police, I liked Books Can Be Deceiving and found it intriguing. I have already purchased the next in the series, so stay tuned for a review of that soon. I give this book four stars.
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