A Perfect Bind
Beloved Bookroom Mystery #2
By Dorothy St. James
Author’s website: dorothystjames.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Librarian Tru Beckett, ardent defender of the printed word, is about to find out that keeping murder checked out of her beloved library is much harder than she thought…
Tru Beckett succeeded in building a secret book room in her now bookless library, where book lovers from lovely Cypress, South Carolina, can rejoice in the printed word. Now she’s working hard to maintain the little library downstairs while keeping her real job upstairs in the bookless technology center. The last thing she needs is a mysterious vandal who seems intent on breaking into her secret book-filled sanctuary and creating chaos. The nasty interloper doesn’t steal anything, but brutalizes the books, damaging them and knocking them off shelves.
A patron of the secret book room tells Tru that there have been creepy goings-on at the library for years, especially in the basement where the secret book room is located. He’s heard rumors of a poltergeist that haunts the library, determined to scare off readers. Tru is certain it’s hogwash, but she’s at a loss to think of who might be vandalizing the beautiful books she fought so hard to protect. And when a dead body shows up right behind the library, Tru is certain that it’s not a ghost but a cold-blooded killer that she and her trusty tabby Dewey Decimal will need to uncover. (From Goodreads)
This is a wonderful sequel to the first in series, The Broken Spine. It is a delightful, thoughtful, and even at times downright scary cozy mystery. I enjoy the characters, especially Tru and Flossie, who are intelligent women in their chosen fields. The premise of a library without print books is, to me, as horrifying as it is to Tru! There is humor woven throughout, and the potential for at least one romance. The murder and vandalism kept me guessing throughout, and I enjoyed the history presented.
Renovations to the library are complete, and it reopened with no physical books. Only digital books and tablets to loan out are available. Many new programs have begun for the patrons, most of which are received well. Tru’s secret bookroom, where she and handful of like-minded patrons set up unique items she saved from the landfill, repurposed the WWII era bomb shelter in the basement. Included are local historical documents and several hundred well-loved books. Only people they know well, can keep secrets, and who love printed pages are allowed there to check out books.
One of those people is Hubert, president of the historical museum board, who does much research there. In recent weeks, a vandal has been getting into the library after hours, picking the lock on the bookroom, and tossing books, shelves, and documents to the floor. Some were damaged, but none are missing. Based on what Hubert’s grandmother told him from when she had worked there during Prohibition, there was a poltergeist. He believes the specter has returned to wreak havoc on their priceless library.
They cannot go to the police, as the head librarian, Mrs. Farnsworth, a stickler for the rules, would probably fire Tru for saving the books, even for a good cause. Shortly after opening, a patron came in and said there was a dead body behind the building.
Of all the people Mrs. Farnsworth doesn’t want to see behind the library, it is the town’s only auto mechanic, Owen. Whenever he has too much to drink, he parks behind the library to sleep it off. When she sees Owen’s truck in back, the elderly librarian insists he is sleeping off another drunk, until Tru sees the blood on his head and shirt. He sure wasn’t killed by a poltergeist, but Tru wonders if he was seen by the bookroom vandal and was killed as a result.
The author brings the people of Cypress to life. I enjoy Tru, her friends, and even though not among her favorite people, Anne. Anne is the young techno-wizard who came from Silicon Valley to obtain, set up, and maintain everything needed to take the library paperless. Tru and Flossie are vying for my favorites, even though there is nearly forty years between Tru and the best-selling author. Tru’s best friend Tori is loyal and always goes the extra mile. Jace, the local detective, has a crush on Tru that everyone can see except her, due to long-ago events. I do like him, however, and am rooting for something between the two of them. She rarely dates and keeps turning him down.
Cypress has a small police force, so a state detective comes to help with the murder. While he and Jace know Tru was instrumental in identifying the last murderer in town, they do not want her involved with this case even if she does feel proprietary about the library. Tru isn’t one to sit still, nor are her closest friends. They learn of at least one other death that could be related to this case. It was a great challenge to discern who the killer was as well as the vandal. There were a couple of excellent red herrings, so I didn’t figure out who it was until about the same time Tru did. The end is fully satisfying, and I am looking forward to the next in series! I highly recommend it to those who enjoy bookish cozy mysteries!