By Book or by Crook

A Lighthouse Library Mystery #1

By Eva Gates

ISBN# 9780451470935)

Author’s Website:

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!

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*