In the second novel in the “engaging” (Booklist) cozy library mystery series, Karen must work to clear her beau’s name after his ex-girlfriend is killed by a falling bookshelf while staying at his inn.
The Case of the Killer Case?
Ropes, revolvers, daggers, arsenic. . . . They are the classic, go-to murder weapons, from Christie to Clue. But death by bookcase? With one good shove, a crafty killer can keep investigators guessing: did it fall or was it pushed? That’s what sassy Midwestern librarian Karen Nash must determine—and if so, who did the pushing—when an avalanche of books and splintered wood fatally flattens Sally Burroughs, the ex-girlfriend of Karen’s squeeze, London B&B proprietor Caldwell Perkins, who appears the most likely suspect for murder. In the library. With the bookcase.
And maybe he has grounds? Just as he and his librarian love are making a go of opening their dream bookstore (that’s bookshop, in British English), Sally pops up years after abandoning him, to demand her share of the B&B’s sale. To Karen’s orderly mind, sorting her jumbled feelings about uprooting her life in Minnesota and taking a chance on Caldwell is much like sorting his four-thousand-three-hundred-and-twenty-four precious volumes: everything has its place. A little research reveals that more than one person may have had Sally issues, and Karen must prove that Caldwell is obsessed with books, not revenge. But will her hunt for a killer turn up too little, too late?
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Mary Lou Kirwin has lived in France, Belgium, England, and New York City. She now lives a quiet life in the wilds of Minnesota and Wisconsin. She feels she owes a great deal to all the librarians in her life—for handing her the right book at the right time.
Read an Excerpt
Sitting on the floor surrounded by books, I realized I had never been happier in my life.
The sun streamed in the open window of Caldwell’s library, which had been a bedroom in his B and B at one time but was now filled with floor-to-ceiling bookcases holding row upon row of amazing books. Not in perfect order. Not in terrifically bad order, but I wanted to organize them to my satisfaction. I’m a librarian, and I know how these things should be handled.
Caldwell was running errands, and I was glad to have both some meaningful work to do and time to myself to think over the last few months of my life—how things had changed. Caldwell and I had fallen in love under rather dire circumstances and, for both of us, we needed some time to just be together and see if what we were feeling for each other had legs, as they say.
There were inherent problems in our relationship: he lived in London, I lived in Sunshine Valley, Minnesota. The plane trip took a good eight hours if you were lucky and then there was the jet lag. Neither of us was a spring chicken; rather we were in the prime of our forties. My previous boyfriend had dumped me and then died rather tragically. Caldwell had started the B and B with his previous girlfriend, who had later run out on him, leaving him to fend for himself and make breakfast for the guests. But that was quite a few years ago. We were both recovering from these upsetting and unreliable relationships.
I hadn’t thought I would retire from my job as a librarian for some years yet, but Caldwell was ready to jump with both feet into running a bookstore (or as he was constantly reminding me in British English, a “bookshop”) here in London. He wanted it to be called Nash and Perkins, our two last names; therefore, he wanted me to be involved in the running of said shop. He felt we would make very good partners. He had hinted at wanting to make us more than simply business partners. I had the same thoughts, but was being cautious.
I had come over to London about a week ago to try this new lifestyle on for size. Over the years I had accumulated many weeks of vacation time, having taken them so infrequently. I had asked for two months off to help Caldwell get his life and his books organized and to see if we wanted to take these next steps together.
Since Caldwell had been scouting around for the perfect shop, word had gotten out of his intentions and was already stirring up interest in his collection. While he collected a great variety of books, he was specializing in children’s books. One of our guests was a well-known book collector, Bruce W. Hogsworth. Bruce wanted desperately to see Caldwell’s library, but so far Caldwell had put him off—just not ready to let go of any of his books.
At the moment, I was trying to decide how to arrange Caldwell’s nonfiction, whether to stick with strict library methodology or to be more loose, more intuitive about what books to put next to each other. For example, Caldwell puts all the books about Canterbury, England, together even if they should be shelved apart because some are about its geography and others are about its history.
This can grate on me. By nature, I am not intuitive. I believe everything has its proper place. But along with thinking of making a major change in my life—like moving to England and opening a store and living with a man I love—I was trying to be a little more relaxed about all things.
For instance, I was learning to eat dinner later. I was used to eating promptly at six. That’s when Caldwell might start thinking about dinner. We went out to eat more than I was used to.
And he often bought books because they were handsome, while I tended to focus on their monetary worth.
When I arrived, Caldwell had told me that he had found a wonderful first edition in very good condition. “I’m still checking out whether I’m right about this book. If I am, it alone could finance the start-up of our business.”
“Will you be able to sell it?” I asked, knowing that he could get quite attached to certain books.
He hesitated before saying, “I think so.”
He hadn’t told me what book it was or shown it to me yet. I trusted him. He would reveal it to me when he was ready. I knew it could well be secreted away in the very room I was sitting in, but I wasn’t going to search for it. I was content to let things unfold as they would.
I wanted to share this lovely, quiet moment with someone, and so I called Rosie, who worked with me as a librarian and who, even though she was a couple decades younger than me, was my best friend. In Minneapolis, it was early in the afternoon. She would be home unless her new beau, Richard, had taken her out to see an early movie.
“Hey,” she said when she answered the phone.
“Hey, yourself. How are things in Sunshine Valley?” I was feeling so good I nearly sang this question to the tune of “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” and I don’t even like the song.
“The usual. Nancy, our favorite librarian, griped all day long about how much work you’ve left us with and how your replacement shouldn’t be allowed to pump gas, let alone touch a book.”
Nancy was the head librarian and took her work very seriously. Not that Rosie and I didn’t, but we tried to have fun too. “I’m glad to hear nothing has changed.”
“But you’ve changed. You sound positively glowing.”
“You can tell that over the phone?” I asked.
“Yes, your voice is all full of bubbles.”
“Well, it feels good to be here,” I admitted.
“With Caldwell,” she added.
“Yes, with Caldwell. Guess what I’m doing.”
“Sitting in the back garden eating some crumpets.”
“No, I’m sitting on the floor of the library, which is really just this room that used to be a bedroom that Caldwell has filled with shelves, and I’m organizing his books.”
“That’s enough to make any librarian happy.”
“And sometimes I’m not even putting them according to the Dewey decimal system.”
“Oh, you are a wild thing. So things are going pretty good. Are we going to lose you to this Svengali?”
“Maybe. I’m just taking it a day at a time, until I have to decide.”
“Which is in seven weeks,” she reminded me. “Oh, there’s the doorbell.”
“What movie are you seeing tonight?” I asked. Seeing movies was about all she did with Richard—but they both loved it.
“We’re staying in tonight and watching Casablanca.”
Which made me want to sing “A kiss is just a kiss.” “Toodles,” I said.
“Ta-ta.” Rose signed off.
The only fly in the ointment of my utterly perfect moment and heavenly day was the decision I had to make—did it make sense for me to completely give up my life and step so deeply into Caldwell’s? How well did I really know the man? Why did I have to lose so much to gain him?
I was trying hard to pay attention to what felt right to me. After Dave’s horrible and untimely death, I had seen a therapist for a few months. At first, when she would ask me how something made me feel, I literally didn’t know what to say. I hardly knew what she meant. Cold and hot I could distinguish, but how I felt emotionally about an event was a real struggle for me to ascertain. I had a few episodes of sobbing and laughing hysterically in the therapist’s office. I guess you call those breakthroughs although at the time they felt more like breakdowns.
As I sat in front of a wall of books, trying to decide whether to put so-and-so’s book on British history in the historical books, where it belonged, or in the section on royalty, next to a book on Princess Diana, where it might also find readers, I was also working on simply feeling happy, letting this emotion wash over me in waves.
How odd to have to practice feeling happy.
Just at the moment when I thought I had nailed it—when happiness flooded over me like a warm and powerful rain shower—the doorbell rang. Little did I know that answering it would completely blow my happy world apart.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Librarian Karen Nash has found herself in the middle of another murder mystery. Picking up where the first volume in this series left off, Karen has gone to England to explore her potential new business and romantic partnership with Caldwell Perkins. They plan to open a bookshop, and Caldwell's book collection is killer. Literally. When Caldwell's ex-girlfriend/business partner Sally shows up after seven years, most people aren't exactly thrilled to see her. However, when Sally is found dead underneath a bookcase full of Caldwell's precious books, Caldwell is immediately pegged as a likely suspect. What was Sally, a woman who didn't like books, doing in the library, anyway? And who wanted her out of the way badly enough to kill her? Karen has to put her logical librarian's brain to work to solve this whodunit if she's going to save the man she loves. As a librarian, of course I enjoy books about librarians, especially smart ones. However, I think Karen Nash was a bit slow on the uptake in this one. The murderer is so painfully obvious, as are the solutions to other, smaller, mysteries in this book. As soon as the murder has occurred and each person's reactions are described, the case was solved. That was about, oh, 30 pages in. The rest of the 200+ pages was a bit frustrating. If there is a third installment in this series, hopefully the mystery is really that--a mystery!
I couldn't put it down...
Librarian Karen Nash has returned to London with B & B owner Caldwell Perkins to pursue both their relationship but also the feasibility of opening a bookstore. They are barely back when Caldwell’s old girlfriend and business partner, Sally, shows up with her new boyfriend, Alfredo. She left him in the lurch 7 years ago and after all this time she wants to reclaim her half of the business or have Caldwell buy her out. She seems to have forgotten emptying their bank account and leaving him on his own to run the Bed & Breakfast all these years. That night Karen is jolted out of bed by a loud crash. She rushes into the hallway to find Caldwell standing there in the doorway of the library with a horrific look on his face. Karen peers in the door and all she can see is one of the huge bookcases has toppled. That’s when she notices a woman’s hand under the enormous pile of books. She soon realizes it is Sally and that she is dead. This has to have been an accident, right? The detective thinks it was murder and Caldwell is his prime suspect. Karen is determined to find the real culprit that caused this bump in the night because she knows Caldwell is definitely not going to be booked for this murder. Dollycas’s Thoughts In this followup to Killer Librarian, we find Karen back in London. I admit I wish the characters would have spent a little more time in Minnesota but hopefully they will in a future installment. This reads like an old fashioned mystery, like a game of Clue where we know the weapon and the room we just need to determine the killer. It seems all it takes is a “cuppa” tea to get people talk. Do they really drink this much tea in England? :) The main characters continue to emerge and there is the expected twist in this genre. The story does flow nicely. It was a fun read but it was just missing that little something. Karen is a very intelligent woman and her relationship with Caldwell just seems a little whirlwind for me. She just came across very pragmatic in the first book. It was her first trip abroad and she was reeling from her broken relationship. I realize she is in her 40′s and the start of the romance between her and Caldwell was a large part of the first book but they are already so familiar with each other and making huge future plans. I just feel like we missed out on the courtship building between them. They haven’t even had much of a disagreement on anything. I hope the author slows things down and adds a little real life conflict that happens in all relationships as I am sure they will be working together to not only open a bookstore but solve another mystery or two or many. The author has a handle on the mystery aspects. There is plenty of room for character growth and development in this new series. I will be watching for book 3.
After reading the first in this author’s series about librarians, Killer Librarian, it was easy to get started on this second librarian book called Death Overdue. This series features a librarian, Karen Nash, living in the Midwestern US who is in a relationship with Caldwell Perkins, a book lover who runs a B&B in London. Karen and Caldwell are trying to decide whether they want to take their relationship into marriage so Karen has gone over to London to help Caldwell open a bookstore. Sadly, their plans for a lovely time peter out when Caldwell’s former partner, Sally Burroughs, shows up. She apparently was the former girlfriend of Caldwell and is now coming back to London as she thinks the B&B is part hers and she wants a partnership again with Caldwell. She isn’t romantically inclined toward Caldwell as she brought her Italian fiancé with her. She only wants to help run the B&B and is not very happy about Karen being there knowing that Karen and Caldwell want to sell the B&B and start a book store. One evening, while Sally is looking up at a large book case, it falls on her, killing her. If this can’t be called an accident, Caldwell is suspect number one. Karen quickly decides she will find the real killer and save Caldwell. The story goes on and seems a lot like a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot mystery or even, coming to modern times, Jessica Fletcher. This novel is a terrific English country house crime with more than one suspect who all or most of them anyway could easily be the culprit. They include of course, Karen and Caldwell, Sally’s Italian boyfriend, Sally’s sister and a gentleman who is a book lover visiting London. It’s a great whodunit and goes along at a fast pace. Quill says: This is a fascinating book about the unsung hero, the librarian. One of the best quotes in the previous book: “When she checks in, someone always checks out” is a real gem.
Ms. Kirwin has done it again! She has shown her librarian heroine as a smart, empathetic character. This second book of the series continues the romance, includes a murder, and a solution. Yet, it leaves possibilities for a sequel. Can't wait to see what murders occur in or around the book shop.
DEATH OVERDUE is the second book in the Killer Librarian series and Karen Nash is back in London. She’s deciding if she and Caldwell can make a go of their relationship and of opening a bookstore together. As they are talking through plans, Sally Burroughs, Caldwell’s ex-girlfriend and ex-business partner shows up and wants the B&B back. Before they have a chance to discuss this all, Sally is found dead by Caldwell, killed by a bookshelf in his private library. Caldwell is accused of the crime and Karen has decided it’s up to her to discover the truth about the murder. Touted as a cozy mystery, DEATH OVERDUE is just that – cozy. Don’t expect a lot of romance or action from this book or outstanding characters. I did like DEATH OVERDUE better than the first book, KILLER LIBRARIAN, but I think that’s because I had the set-up from the first book. Played out like a real-life game of Clue, Karen uses her powers of research and observation to track down the true killer. I do like the fact that Karen is a middle-aged woman who is planning on starting a new life with Caldwell. DEATH OVERDUE is a quiet mystery with an interesting twist when it’s discovered who perpetrated the crime.