Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel. He’s returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but a celebrated author’s visit draws an unruly swarm of fanatic mystery buffs and one devious killer.
It’s National Library Week, and the Athena Public Library is planning an exhibit to honor the centenary of famous novelist Electra Barnes Cartwright—creator of the beloved Veronica Thane series.
Charlie has a soft spot for Cartwright’s girl detective stories (not to mention an extensive collection of her books!). When the author agrees to make a rare public appearance, the news of her whereabouts goes viral overnight, and series devotees and book collectors converge on Athena.
After all, it’s rumored that Cartwright penned Veronica Thane stories that remain under wraps, and one rabid fan will stop at nothing—not even murder—to get hold of the rare books (Goodreads)
With National Library Week quickly approaching, the Athena librarians and Charlie, who volunteers at the library, have put together an exhibit and retrospective honoring girl detectives in young adult literature. During their preparations, they discover that Charlie’s favorite author of the bunch, Electra Barnes Cartwright, is still alive at almost one hundred years of age, living nearby, and willing to make an appearance. Trouble quickly comes knocking when news of her visit goes viral, and a slew of dedicated fans and collectors arrive at the library. Add to them a slippery publisher who is lacking funds, a literary agent who goes missing, and rare copies of Cartwright’s first book containing an error, and it is no surprise that someone ends up murdered. The president of Cartwright’s fan club is found strangled in her home. When Cartwright’s unpublished manuscripts are stolen, Charlie is urged to help the police determine if the crimes are related and who committed them. He solves the crime by doing what he does best – research.
This is the fifth Cat in the Stacks mystery, and the series has become one of my favorites. I enjoy the mature sleuth, Charlie, and his Maine coon cat, Diesel. This installment, however, is not the strongest of the books. I found that it dragged a bit throughout. I appreciate that the author weaved one of Cartwright’s detective stories into the narrative of the book, and that it played a role in Charlie solving the crime, but I must admit I found these bits a little boring. Perhaps I did not enjoy Nancy Drew enough as a child to appreciate the homage to her here. For those who are interested, the author has made the entire story available on his website.
I missed many of the recurring characters, such as Charlie’s housekeeper and his boarders, in this venture and hope they return in further installments…because, even though this fell a tad flat for me, I still enjoyed this quick, light mystery and look forward to many more adventures with Charlie and Diesel. I would recommend this book to current fans of the series and lovers of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Trixie Beldon.