I blame Nancy Drew...
I blame Nancy Drew for my life of crime. Reading it and writing it, that is.
I was ten when I borrowed The Secret of Shadow Ranch from a cousin. It was the first mystery I ever read, and I was hooked. Then, to my delight, I discovered this was only one of a long series of adventures in which Nancy solved mystery after mystery. Just as exciting, I soon found other amateur mystery-solvers: the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, and many more. By the time I began reading adult mysteries, my love of the amateur detective was completely entrenched.
When I decided I wanted to write a mystery myself, I knew my main character would be an amateur. After all, I’m not a policeman, or a lawyer, or a private detective. But I do have a healthy dose of curiosity about the world around me and the people in it. Charlie Harris, the sleuth in my “Cat in the Stacks” series, is just like me in that respect. He’s also about my age (fiftyish, if you must know), he’s a librarian, he grew up in Mississippi, and he has a Maine coon cat. That’s as far as it goes, however. (I have two cats, by the way, neither of which is a Maine coon. Also, Diesel is much better behaved than my two.)
I wanted to incorporate my knowledge of, and love for, these juvenile series books into one of my own books, and in the new book, The Silence of the Library, I have done so. I created a series character in the mold of Nancy Drew and the other girl detectives and called her Veronica Thane. The author of the series, Electra Barnes Cartwright, was inspired by Mildred Wirt Benson (the first writer, aka “Carolyn Keene”, of the Nancy Drew series, Margaret Sutton, author of the Judy Bolton series, and Julie Campbell Tatham, the original author of Trixie Belden. In fact the book is dedicated to their memories.
The most fun part of writing this book for me was the “excerpts” from the first Veronica Thane book. I reread some of my favorite girl detective stories from the 1930s to get a sense of the style in my head, and off I went. I hope readers will get a kick out of this aspect of the story. Of course, The Silence of the Library includes murder – a subject that usually didn’t come up in the classic juvenile series books. But when you get a number of rabid book collectors together, with hints of a rare and highly collectible volume, something deadly is sure to happen.
The Silence of the Library (Cat in the Stacks - Book 5) by Miranda James
Publication Date: 01/28/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound
Miranda James on the WEB: website, facebook, goodreads
Books in the series:
Murder Past Due (2010), Classified as Murder (2011), File M for Murder (2012), Out of Circulation (2013), The Silence of the Library (2014)
Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.
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…
The Silence of the Library is the fifth book in the Cat in the Stacks series by author Miranda James. Long time fans of the series always enjoy a visit with librarian, Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon Cat, Diesel. This title is a nod to the girl detective series like Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and will make cozy readers nostalgic for the reads of their childhood. James always delivers a mystery that is entertaining and full of surprises and this one is no different. A great addition to the series!
What I liked:
As always with this series, I love the fact that we have a hero, rather than a heroine. Too many cozy mystery writers believe that the protagonist has to be female for cozy readers to enjoy. Miranda/Dean James proves that theory wrong. Charlie Harris is a well beloved character who has a different perspective on amateur sleuthing perhaps because of his gender. I thought James did a wonderful job of developing this character and continues to delight readers with his antics.
Diesel the Maine Coon Cat is always a favorite with this series. He doesn't have magical abilities or anything like that. He is just a companion, a partner in crime, if you will and he adds a certain flavor to book that is unmistakable. Charlie practically takes Diesel everywhere with him and that includes sleuthing. Diesel is as big as a small dog and would be hard to go unnoticed. I just think Diesel adds something to story that is hard to describe but easy to understand.
The main reason I was so taken with this particular book in the series, was the girl detective theme that James uses. I was a huge fan of girl detective stories when I was young and it led me to books by authors and like Agatha Christie and then to the cozies I enjoy as an adult like The Silence of the Library. That homage or nod to the authors like Mildred Wirt Benson and Julie Campbell Tatham was simply magical. I loved the nostalgic feel this book gives off and I know many cozy readers will as well.
The mystery aspects of this novel were very well written. I always enjoy the fact that James allows Charlie to have his own way with the investigation. He doesn't have to resort to going behind the backs of authorities and he doesn't sleuth where sleuthing isn't warranted. He knows the right questions to ask to the right suspects or witnesses or even killers. This was one was a little hard to figure out which is a good thing and I didn't have it until the last couple of chapters. The suspect list was believable as well. Rare book collectors are definitely a breed of their own and James did a wonderful job of bringing that world to life for the reader.
What I didn't like:
There weren't any huge glaring mistakes with this one. James as usual provides a very succinct mystery that is beautiful in it's simplicity and still complex enough to keep the reader glued to the pages.
If you are a fan of this series, The Silence of the Library is easily my favorite so far. James delivers a cozy that is entertaining and harkens back to the girl detectives of old. His style and prose make readers want to continue reading about Charlie and Diesel. Definitely, a keeper!
The Silence of the Library is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
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