Miranda James, the pseudonym of Dean James, has just released book eight, Twelve Angry Librarians, in the Cat in the Stacks series, about the life of a librarian at Athena College in Georgia. Charlie Harris, the acting director of the college’s library, has a lot to deal with as the Southern Academic Library Association holds its annual conference at Athena College, and Charlie recognizes its keynote speaker as being a former library school classmate who was particularly unfriendly. Then Charlie learns that Gavin Fong, the former classmate, has applied for the position that Charlie has been holding on an interim basis the last few months.
After the opening of the convention, Gavin approaches Charlie in an offensive manner, and when Charlie responds back verbally, Gavin reacts by throwing punches. After dodging three punches, Charlie swings back, making Gavin land on his butt. Despite his having started the physical altercation, Gavin goes off uttering threats against Charlie. So when Charlie is asked to report to the college president first thing in the morning, he fears trouble over this fight. Instead, the president asks him to take the permanent position as library director, a job Charlie never even applied for. So he has a lot on his mind!
The next day, Gavin gets up to give his keynote address, takes a gulp of water from his water bottle, and dies immediately of cyanide poisoning. Charlie claims not to want to get involved in the investigation, but his position as host of the conference gives him the perfect excuse to detect, where he learns that Gavin has been blackmailing others, even sometimes with threats to make fraudulent claims against those who don’t pay up.
This book is a strong addition to the series. The details all come across as typical of life and believable, other than the way everyone in Athens allows Charlie to take his 30-some-pound Maine coon cat into every public building. As much as I love Diesel, the cat, I get a little tired in the prior books with the way Charlie brings up Diesel every minute or two. This book seemed to have more balance. There was still plenty of fun material on Diesel without its going as overboard on him as the earlier books.
I did find myself disappointed not to get to see as much of Charlie’s family, both biological and “adopted.” The book spends almost all its time with new characters who have just come to town for the library convention. I miss seeing Charlie’s children and daughter-in-law, who make only short appearances, and his son-in-law, who doesn’t appear at all. I was glad at least to get to see some of the lively Stewart and his little poodle, Dante.
Ironically, even though the book is narrated by Charlie himself, the audio publisher selected a woman, Erin Bennett, to perform it. This seems to mirror the fact that the author is a man writing under the name of a woman, probably because cozy mysteries are almost entirely written by women. Both gender switches work, though, and Bennett gives a great performance throughout the whole series. In the first book I listened to, it took me a while even to notice this potential disconnect. I think she does a great job!
Twelve Angry Librarians concludes with a creative ending that intrigued me as it resolved the case. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the book, which gave me several delightful hours of entertainment. I give the book five stars!
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