Overdue or Die
By Allison Brook
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Carrie Singleton has a wedding to plan, a killer to catch, and a conspiracy to uncover in this charming seventh novel of Agatha Award-nominee Allison Brook’s Haunted Library mysteries.
Carrie Singleton has more than her fair share on her plate: her job at the Clover Ridge Library, preparing for her wedding to Dylan Avery, and hoping that the local art gallery doesn’t steal away one of her part-time employees. Her fiancé Dylan accompanies her to the beautiful home of Victor Zalinka—art collector and successful businessman—to select paintings for an art show at the library. While Carrie muses that Victor’s home would be the perfect wedding venue, Dylan spots a forgery among the paintings in Victor’s collection.
Then Martha Mallory is found murdered in her art gallery. With the assistance of Evelyn, the library ghost; the resident cat, Smoky Joe; and the office manager of Dylan’s private investigation company, Carrie comes up with a suspect list long enough to rival the size of an encyclopedia. During her investigation, Carrie stumbles across a terrible truth: Martha’s murder was part of something far bigger and more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. And it all leads back to the art gallery.
How far will Carrie go to find the killer and uncover the truth? If the killer finds her first—will Carrie finally be taken out of circulation? (From Goodreads)
This author continues to amaze me with how her main characters grow and each mystery is fresh and unique. All are depicted beautifully through conversations, thoughts, and actions. This time, one of Carrie’s beloved family members suffered a heart attack, which adds to Carrie’s concerns and this reader’s vision of how very quickly life changes.
Carrie is head of programming and events at Clover Ridge Library, and being promoted to that position changed her life in ways nobody could have foreseen except perhaps for her beloved great-uncle Bosco and great-aunt, Harriet. She met the man of her dreams in one of her brother’s childhood friends when looking for a cottage to rent. Carrie saw Dylan for the first time in years, and the rest has been a sweet time of discovery and romance. She enjoys living in the cottage on the property of the estate he inherited. Smoky Joe is a handsome cat who adopted Carrie shortly after her move. He is also very popular with library patrons and is there most days that she is at work.
Carrie, her young cousin Tacey, and Smoky Joe are the only ones who can see Evelyn, the resident ghost of the library. Carrie, with help from her friends and Evelyn, helped solve several mysteries since living in Clover Ridge. Dylan is a private investigator specializing in locating stolen, high-end art and gems. As partner in the company, he and his boss hired Jim, Carrie’s father, who gave up a life of mostly unsuccessful crime and jail and used the tricks and schemes of his former life to catch other thieves.
Dylan’s late great-uncle had left a special painting to him that he went to Chicago to get from his uncle’s friend who had stored it. Before he could leave town, Dylan was attacked at a nearby mini-mart and the painting was stolen. Dylan and his boss are very knowledgeable in art forgery and since most of this artist’s work is privately owned, forgers have a huge market for good copies.
Carrie has been working with Victor, a local art collector and patron of the library and the local arts community. For the grand opening of the new wing of the library, he is sharing paintings from his personal collection for the new library gallery. She and Dylan went to Victor’s estate to help select the paintings he would loan them. Dylan saw a painting in a place of honor at Victor’s home and recognized it as a poor forgery of a work by the same artist whose painting was stolen from Dylan. He wondered if Victor is part of a ring selling forgeries, especially since he had an import – export business.
One of Carrie’s part-time assistants is a talented young artist. The local gallery recently began selling her work. Martha, co-owner of the gallery, has been spending more time with Susan in recent weeks. Susan blossoms and has begun to dress as a successful young woman, but it seems the more time she spends with Martha, the more emotional she becomes. Then Martha was found dead in the back of the gallery.
Evelyn and Martha had been good friends when they were still alive. Before Evelyn’s death, Martha had shared a huge secret about her past, one that could cost her life if the wrong people knew. Among other possible motives, Evelyn was concerned about certain people from her past. Evelyn wants Carrie to find Martha’s killer even as others want to know what involvement Martha may have had with forged artwork.
This mystery goes down some of the most twisty, winding, curves, and I was totally surprised at the many layers of the crimes and murders. Within days of Martha’s death, an elderly lady was murdered at an office building, then one of Martha’s family members was killed. Forgeries, decades-old betrayals, and marital affairs were only a few possible motives for the murders. I was also shocked at who was behind the murders, as I couldn’t remember any clues that would give away the real mastermind. There were no open ends left behind, and even one of the couple’s personal challenges was resolved that they worked on throughout. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and series!