Shelved Under Murder
Blue Ridge Library Mysteries, Book #2
By Victoria Gilbert
Author’s Website: victoriagilbertmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
Autumn leaves aren’t the only things falling in the historic Virginia village of Taylorsford—so are some cherished memories, and a few bodies.
October in Taylorsford, Virginia means it’s leaf peeping season, with bright colorful foliage and a delightful fresh crew of tourists attending the annual Heritage Festival which celebrates local history and arts and crafts. Library director Amy Webber, though, is slightly dreading having to spend two days running a yard sale fundraiser for her library. But during these preparations, when she and her assistant Sunny stumble across a dead body, Amy finds a real reason to be worried.
The body belonged to a renowned artist who was murdered with her own pallet knife. A search of the artist’s studio uncovers a cache of forged paintings, and when the sheriff’s chief deputy Brad Tucker realizes Amy is skilled in art history research, she’s recruited to aid the investigation. It doesn’t seem to be an easy task, but when the state’s art expert uncovers a possible connection between Amy’s deceased uncle and the murder case, Amy must champion her Aunt Lydia to clear her late husband’s name.
That’s when another killing shakes the quiet town, and danger sweeps in like an autumn wind. Now, with her swoon-inducing neighbor Richard Muir, Amy must scour their resources to once again close the books on murder.
Shelved Under Murder is the second book in the Blue Ridge Library Mysteries series by Victoria Gilbert. This title is also my maiden voyage into the writings of Victoria Gilbert. As per usual, I come into the book with an open mind, hoping to find a new favorite author. While that did not happen, I did find Ms. Gilbert’s storytelling entertaining. In the beginning, I could not wait for this story to pick up speed. It seemed clunky and frankly, boring. I wondered if it was that I started at book two of the series? While I suspect that is the case, I did finally get hooked at about halfway through (luckily I stuck it out until that point).
So once I finally got intrigued and vested in the story, I really began to enjoy the storytelling.
Amy Webber is the library director for the Taylorsford library. While picking up items for donation to the annual library fundraiser, Amy, her boyfriend Richard and friend Sunny discover a body – that of locally renowned artist Rachel LeBlanc. I actually was moved during this scene (prior to discovering the body) as Amy is describing how she occasionally feels ‘sometimes’ when she is examining artwork. This truly caught my interest and hooked me:
“I stared at the painting for a few moments marveling, as I always did when studying works of this quality, at the magic of art. Someone – a human just like me – had used brushes and paint to create something from no more than what all other humans possessed – a brain, eyes, and hands. Yet the alchemy of their talent could take these tools and transform a blank canvas into something magnificent.
As I stepped closer to examine the brushstrokes, I felt a slight breeze, as if someone had stepped up beside me. A quick glance showed no one there, and I realized that it was just that feeling I got sometimes when visiting art galleries. While contemplating paintings, I’d occasionally experienced moments of disorientation. I described it as a slippage of time – a feeling that the artist was standing beside me.”
As Amy is trying to figure out ‘whodunit’, the tale twists and curves and takes on a life of its own… producing a whole list of potential suspects. Amy’s sleuthing is methodical and her logical assumptions are easy to follow, which is good considering at times it felt like a tangled mess when more than a few possible scenarios’s popped up. It was interesting following Amy’s logic in untwisting the mess.
Another component of cozy mysteries that I like is humor. And this story had that as well. And lest we forget – the cast of supporting characters. That in my mind is what truly makes the story robust. I loved the slow romance potentially blossoming between Aunt Lydia and art expert Hui Chen (Hugh).
The relationship between Amy and Richard was portrayed in a relatable manner, though at times it seemed like the relationship was flat. Though with a cozy, how much heat is acceptable? I for one would have like to feel more chemistry between the two. Their joint sleuthing had more heat than the romance aspect of their relationship. I was quite thrilled when her friends and family purchased tickets and sent Amy on her way to watch Richard perform… a nice romantic gesture.
Without saying too much (like who), I am glad that some of the bad guys are not really bad guys…well not totally anyways. For the most part, my suspicions of the actual killer were not confirmed until the end (which is how I like my cozy mysteries).
A successful foray into the writing of Victoria Gilbert. I look forward to reading the first book before going any further in the series.