Murder is a Must
First Edition Library Mystery #2
By Marty Wingate
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Determined to make the First Edition Library a success, Hayley Burke wasn’t expecting to have to solve an old friend’s murder in this all-new mystery from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.
Hayley Burke, curator of Lady Fowling’s collection of first edition mysteries, is settling into her position at the First Edition Library in Middlebank House. She’s even made progress with Lady Fowling’s former secretary, the ornery Miss Woolgar. The women are busily preparing for an exhibition that will showcase Lady Fowling’s life and letters. Hayley knows the exhibition is a huge undertaking and decides, against her better judgement, to hire Oona Atherton, her former boss from the Jane Austen Centre to help with the planning.
Oona is known for being difficult, but all seems to be going swimmingly until she and Hayley uncover a one-page letter that alludes to a priceless edition of MURDER MUST ADVERTISE signed by several Golden Age of Mystery authors. Oona feels this book could be the focal point of the exhibition and becomes obsessed with finding it.
When they find clues that appear to point to the book being somewhere in the First Edition Library, Oona is certain she’s unraveled the mystery and texts Hayley the good news, but upon arriving back at Middlebank, Hayley finds her old boss dead at the bottom of the stairs. Did her discovery of the rare book get her killed or was it some angry shadow from her past? Hayley must read between the lines to catch a malicious murderer. (From Goodreads)
It is a delight to read the second in this fresh and exhilarating series that highlights authors and best- selling novels from the Golden Age of Mystery! I enjoyed visiting these delightful, well-defined characters in Bath, England. The author mixes wit, history, and mystery into a unique blend that entertains modern readers in the same way that the classics enthralled readers past and present.
The First Edition Society was begun by the late Lady Georgiana Fowling, who gained a love of the classic mysteries from her beloved late husband. She included his extensive collection of signed first editions in the library at Middlebank House and added to it throughout her life. Hayley is the new curator of the library, and one of her goals is to rebuild the Society to the world-wide membership it once enjoyed.
Hayley, with the assistance of Val, her boyfriend, is preparing for the inaugural literary salon, a six-week program which highlights lecturers from various walks of life who are also mystery authors. As one who believes she needs to prove herself in this position, Hayley has also proposed an exhibition to highlight the life of Lady Georgiana Fowling. Included will be her journals, mysteries she wrote, and mysteries she loved. The exhibition will take place in about a year, dependent on obtaining a venue and exhibition manager. When a cancellation occurs at the preferred venue, Hayley jumps on it, and must find a manager quickly as the cancellation is only three months away!
Oona is a brilliant manager that Hayley once worked for. Her shows are excellent, but she is a challenging lady to work for. As demanding as she is with her assistants, she is equally demanding on herself. It is with mixed feelings that Hayley presents her to the board as a potential manager because Oona is the one person who could pull off the exhibition in the allotted time. Thankfully, she now comes with her own personal assistant.
Oona wows the board with her ideas for the show. Hayley secures a room for Oona and Clara, her PA, to work from at the venue. When searching through various collectible editions in the library, Hayley found a draft of a letter Lady Fowling sent to Dorothy Sellers. If Hayley can find the book referenced in the letter, it will be a focal point for the show – a first edition of the famous author’s 1933 novel, ‘Murder Must Advertise’ signed by all members of the famous Detection Club! It will also add an unprecedented value to the library.
Oona texted Hayley that she found THE clue that will help them locate the novel, but her text is incomplete. Hayley hurries to see what Oona found, but someone else may have been the taken the clue. Oona is dead on the landing of exterior stairs to the office, a victim of murder, perhaps by someone with an interest in the valuable volume.
Hayley and others are described well with characteristics that bring them to life. Glynnis Woolgar, the secretary of the First Edition Society board and former PA to and close friend of Lady Georgiana, is warming up to Hayley. She wears elegant 1930’s-style clothing she has sewn herself. Hayley has many endearing attributes, including getting Bunter, Lady Fowling’s tortoiseshell cat, a new catnip mouse every week and talking with the life-size portrait of Lady Fowling on the library landing. And what woman dating a father of adult daughters hasn’t trembled when meeting those daddy’s girls?
Plot twists and turns identify or eliminate suspects in this murder investigation. It might not be in Hayley’s job description, but she feels the need to solve the case to protect Clara and make sure the exhibition is known for Lady Georgiana and her work rather than an unsolved murder. She also feels the responsibility to find the valuable Sayers first edition. This challenging mystery includes several surprises, including who provides the vital clue that identifies the real bad guy. I highly recommend this hard to put down novel with an incredible ending!