The Silence of the Library
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
by Miranda James
Berkeley Prime Crime
Librarian Charlie Harris and his outsized Maine coon cat are caught between the centenarian author of a successful girl sleuth mystery series and her adoring if crazy fans. The Athena Public Library where Charlie volunteers is planning an exhibit to honor 100-year-old Electra Barnes Cartwright , the author of the Veronica Thane series. Electra comes forward to participate, and suddenly the town seems filled with people determined to meet her, get her autograph on their collectible copies of her books, and otherwise fawn over and take advantage of her. Unfortunately emotions run high in this passionate crowd, and we all know what that leads to. Someone is murdered.
I found the language Charlie uses to be charming. At first it seemed a little stiff, but it grew on me. I don’t know if this is typical of the character (not having read others in the series), but it fit with the focus being on the older girl-sleuth series. Those books were written in a style all their own. Author James does a wonderful job of depicting this style in the segments of the Veronica Thane book Charlie reads throughout the span of The Silence of the Library. A delightful surprise is included in the endnotes when the author invites you to read the entire story of Veronica Thane’s first adventure from her website.
What mystery reader — and writer — didn’t grow up on the teenage sleuth series that abounded in years past? Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Vicki Carr – look at mystery readers’ bookshelves and you’ll still find two or three of these held over from their childhood. What a fitting storyline for the Cat in the Stacks series.
Purposely or not, the plot in The Silence of the Library bears resemblance to plots used in the old teen detective series. Classic twists, an ensemble of suspects, and the final reveal; all of these are elements we’re familiar with. And if I recognized the turns we took and anticipated the destination, it was only like driving a familiar road in the country and checking out the farmers’ new crops. I still enjoyed the ride.