By Book or by Crook
A Lighthouse Library Mystery #1
By Eva Gates
Author’s Website: www.vickidelany.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
For ten years Lucy has enjoyed her job poring over rare tomes of literature for the Harvard
Library, but she has not enjoyed the demands of her family’s social whorl or her sort-of engagement
to the staid son of her father’s law partner. But when her ten-year relationship
implodes, Lucy realizes that the plot of her life is in need of a serious rewrite.
Calling on her aunt Ellen, Lucy hopes that a little fun in the Outer Banks sun—and some
confections from her cousin Josie’s bakery—will help clear her head. But her retreat quickly
turns into an unexpected opportunity when Aunt Ellen gets her involved in the lighthouse library
tucked away on Bodie Island.
Lucy is thrilled to land a librarian job in her favorite place in the world. But when a priceless
first edition Jane Austen novel is stolen and the chair of the library board is murdered, Lucy
suddenly finds herself ensnared in a real-life mystery—and she’s not so sure there’s going to be
a happy ending…. (From Goodreads)
Eva Gates brings book lovers and lighthouse lovers alike a new, exciting series this month, By
Book or by Crook. If I could do it over again, I might choose to be a librarian like Lucy. And a
research librarian? Please! I could spend endless hours researching and writing into a useful
format for the requester. But to leave a long career at Harvard with little notice and head off to
North Carolina? Okay, to leave over a man and start over is tempting at any age! And landing
near the ocean, then landing in a plum job? This is an adventure worth having!
Bodie Island and the Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced as “Body”) are very real places,
although the real lighthouse does not have a library or abode. Eva Gates shares some of the
its history in this novel. Lucy Richardson has loved the lighthouse since seeing it on summer
vacations when she was a little girl, and the opportunity to be the Assistant Librarian to Bertie
James and live in the tiny apartment on the fourth “floor” was like a dream come true. Charlie,
the library cat, chose to bond and live with Lucy and be her “protector”.
Bertie had obtained on loan a rare exhibit of valuable Jane Austen first edition books and a
handwritten journal. Theson were treasured volumes of Lucy’s most revered author, and she
could hardly believe when she donned white gloves to open the tomes. A special ceremony
was planned for unveiling the rare books,, and the journal was kept as a surprise until the
ceremony began. Except the unveiling didn’t go quite as planned.
At the ceremony, Lucy ran into her childhood summer friend, Connor, who was now the Mayor.
Connor is single, attractive, and they converse as only two old friends could in spite of their
years apart. She then met Butch, also single, attractive, and who asked her out for dinner. In
moments, though, she would find that Butch is a cop, and he might have to postpone their date
for quite some time.
Mr. Uppiton, head of the library board, loudly complained about Bertie hiring Lucy, a “stranger”
who he didn’t think qualified, over Louise Jane, who had no background but generations of local
family. Bertie, a woman that Lucy had come to respect in a short time, stood up for her, which
would be her downfall. Shortly before the unveiling, a scream tore through the lighthouse;
Lucy followed the scream to the rare book room. She found Mr. Uppiton on the floor, dead.
Bertie was holding a broken bottle, which was considered the murder weapon – even though
Lucy felt that Bertie was keeping liquid from the rare tome on the floor, the response of anyone
trained around rare books. But Detective Sam Watson, playing bad cop to Butch’s good cop
demeanor, sees things quite differently, believing that “Bertie” Albertina James was guilty of
One by one, the rare Jane Austen books go missing – and Lucy is a suspect since she lives in
the lighthouse and has so many opportunities…even when a better lock is placed on the the box
they are in, and only Bertie has a key – someone is obviously picking the lock. Louise Jane, in
her inimitable obnoxious style, tells Lucy stories of suicides, ghosts, and other nasties that have
occurred within the walls of the lighthouse, specifically the room that she lives in. Charlie growls
at all unexpected bumps in the night, and Lucy refuses to be spooked…until the footsteps on the
stairs can’t be ignored. Lucy is trying to reason out who the real culprit is, both of the murder
and the thefts, before anyone else is murdered. The more she searches, the more suspects
there are, and, oh so little time! Especially with her beloved job on the line.
First, I loved this book and look forward to the next one! From the beginning, every element
is here that makes a perfect mystery for me, the library, the background of the lighthouse and
ocean, a cat (of course!) and two mysteries that may or may not be related. The characters
are a delight, even those I don’t like. Each has their place, whether for good or for obnoxious
diversion. Lucy, Charlie, and Bertie are heroes. The ladies are wise, intelligent, fun, and
resourceful. Butch and Connor bring the touch of romance element, and it is fun to see how
Lucy responds to both good looking, personable men.
Eva Gates has plotted, written, and executed an excellent mystery! It wasn’t easy to determine
who the murderer, and/or the thief, might be – I was quite surprised that my favorite suspects
didn’t line up! Conversations are appropriate to the overall plot, as is the action. I can’t imagine any way this novel
could have been better or more complete. I highly recommend By Book or by Crook to cozy mystery lovers of any
age, including older teens. It is great fun for those who love books, libraries, historical lighthouses, intelligent lady
sleuths, a few eccentric characters, and a touch of romance. Eva, congrats on a great new series, and kudos for the
gorgeous cover art!