The Bodies in the Library
The First Edition Library Mystery #1
By Marty Wingate
Author’s website: martywingate.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Hayley Burke’s fresh start as the curator of The First Edition Society’s
library in Bath, England, is about to take a rotten turn in this charming new
mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Marty
Hayley Burke has landed a dream job. She is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling’s former secretary.
Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley’s ideas to modernize The First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight–an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.
But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job.
What a great first in series! The Bodies in the Library exceeds the novels in this author’s previous series, and those are excellent – making this an absolute winner! The characters are very well-defined, the setting of a First Editions Library in an older British mansion in Bath, classic Agatha Christie mysteries, and the mystery itself make for an absorbing, wonderful read.
Hayley Burke has never read a mystery, yet she is now curator of the library at Middlebank, home of the First Editions Society. It was the passion and dream of the late Lady Georgiana Fowling, also an author of mystery fan fiction, to have this society and collection of books by women authors from the Golden Age of Mysteries for those who love mysteries as much as she did. It has taken three years to settle the estate, mostly due to Lady Fowler’s nephew, Charles Henry Dill. Dill inherited a huge sum of money, and still believes the home should also be his. That his aunt didn’t feel the same didn’t matter – just his desires.
On Wednesday evenings, a writer’s group of folks who are writing fan fiction meet in the library at Middlebank. When Hayley first assumed her new position, she saw a notice that they were looking for a place to meet, and she offered it, thinking that it would please the intentions of the founder. The group is a bit of a challenge, leaving chairs out of place and arguing loudly over their critiques of each other’s work. Mrs. Woolgar, who had been Lady Fowler’s dear friend and personal assistant for decades, disapproves of them and of Hayley.
Hayley makes plans for the future events at the society, including the hope of regular literary salons to meet to include lectures on 1930’s authors and writings, and local entertainment and culture. Adele, her close friend, board member, and the person who suggested her for this position, suggests she get a co-sponsor, perhaps from Bath College, to help with the lectures. Through this suggestion, Hayley meets Val Moffatt, a lecturer in genre fiction and creative writing. A widower, he is intelligent and charming with twin daughters about the same age as Hayley’s daughter.
Before they could get approval from the college or the board, however, a murder occurs that could change everything for the Society. Trist, the leader of the group of writers, is found on a Thursday morning, dead, in the library. Hayley had seen everyone, including Trist, leave last night, locked the door and set the alarm. There are only three people with keys and the alarm code: Mrs. Woolgar, Hayley, and Pauline, of the cleaning service that comes in weekly. Hayley and Mrs. Woolgar have apartments within the home and would have heard if the alarm went off during the night.
Police believe Trist had been murdered outside and identify what his head had hit. Who would have, or even could have, lugged his body inside without leaving any trail – and why inside the library rather than leave him at the post topper where he died?
Hayley’s mother introduces her to Agatha Christie’s novel, The Body in the Library, which is eerily similar to what Hayley has just experienced. She is enthralled with Miss Marple in the first mystery she reads. She wants to read more mysteries, and she wants to find who the murderer(s) could be – not only to save her job, but to get herself and Mrs. Woolgar off the suspect list.
I really like Hayley and her friend Adele. They are both strong, intelligent women who enjoy their chosen literature genres. Adele is the youngest of the five Society members, all of whom were close to Lady Fowler. We even get to know a bit about each person in Hayley’s well-rounded life, including her mum, her daughter Dinah, and Wyn, the guy who is more like an acquaintance than a boyfriend. I am impressed with how well I feel I got to know the characters in this first in series.
The mystery is even more impressive! This is actually the first time I’ve heard about fan fiction, and it sounds fascinating. I couldn’t imagine how exciting it would be to be curator of such an incredible collection and learn about Lady Fowling to see how she would best want her Society to proceed. The mystery is beyond challenging! I enjoyed watching the interactions with the mystery writers, the police, and Hayley, especially as Hayley went from “leaving it to the police” to helping the police with what she learns. There are a few good suspects, even some good motives – but the problem is still who would be able to get the body into the home, into the library. I highly recommend this awesome new mystery!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*