Friday, November 18, 2016

Better Late Than Never

Title:  Better Late Than Never
Author:  Jenn McKinlay
Publication Information:  Berkley. 2016. 304 pages.
ISBN:  0399583734 / 978-0399583735

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "'Let the wild rumpus start!' Beth Stanley cried as the cart of books she had stacked to bursting abruptly regurgitated its contents all over the Briar Creek Public Library's main floor with a loud rushing noise followed by slaps and thumps as the books landed on the ground."

Favorite Quote:  "Being a librarian meant finding the solution - no matter the problem - by using the information and knowledge that the library housed to solve everything from how to build a micro house to how to speak Tatar..."

A mystery set around a library. A library book returned after decades. A librarian turned amateur detective. Some cooking. Some crafting. A whole lot of book talk. A small town where everyone knows everyone. How can I resist such a description? This book is the perfect set up for a book lover.

Lindsey Norris is the director of the public library in the small town of Briar Creek, Connecticut. Briar Creek is the kind of place where everyone seems to know everyone - the mayor, the police chief, the library director, and the other characters around town. It's home to those who have never lived anywhere else and its handful of celebrities who come and stay.

The mystery goes as follows. The Briar Creek Public Library institutes an amnesty day, allowing patrons to return any and all library books in any condition with no risk of penalty. The librarians get a little more than they bargain for on their first every amnesty day. Carts upon carts of books are returned; many of them are in no condition to be salvaged. I love the idea of the stories these book could tell beyond the words written in them, and that is exactly what happens.

Among the books returned though is a book twenty years past due but in pristine condition. Much to their shock, the librarians discover that the book was checked out to a town resident who was murdered on the same day as the book was checked out. The case has never been solved, and this book is now a new clue. It's a chance to find justice for the victim and perhaps also for those wrongfully accused of the crime. For one person, it is perhaps the sign of a day of reckoning. Everyone has their own reasons for being interested.

So begins Lindsey's foray into detective work. As you would suspect with a "cozy" mystery, the book is really more about the town and the characters than about the mystery itself. Mind you, the mystery has a darkness to it and is ultimately solved, but the book is about the journey getting there. The mystery is almost incidental to the main story, which is Lindsey's romance and the small town relationships. A mystery, a healthy dose of friendship, some secrets, much laughter, and a little romance make this book a light, entertaining read. Some added recipes and a craft project add to the cozy feel of this book.

Better Late Than Never is the seventh book in the Library Lover's mystery book series. I did not  know this when I started reading. The characters clearly have a history and relationships that extend from the previous books. However, the book does not feel incomplete and can be read on its own. The mystery aspect of the book clearly stands alone, but I would probably enjoy the characters and relationships more if I read the previous books.

The book ends with Lindsey making a vow not to jeopardize her life and her relationships to pursue detective adventures. Somehow, I think that promise will only last until the next adventure comes along.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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