Twelve Angry Librarians

twelve angry librarians

Twelve Angry Librarians
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Lighthearted librarian Charlie Harris is known around his hometown of Athena, Mississippi, for walking his cat, a rescued Maine Coon named Diesel. But he may soon be taken for a walk himself—in handcuffs…

“Charlie is stressed. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. As if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.

“It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset…

“But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them, before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library…”

Sorry for the long introduction; we here at the Library usually try to keep those dust jacket intros short but sometimes it’s hard with adult fiction. Anyway, despite the intro being a little long and a bit salacious (you know our hero, Charlie, is never in any danger of going to prison!!) the book was outstanding. I read it in two days. I waited three months on the hold list for the book and read it so fast I feel guilty. I may have to read it again before I turn it back in!

This light, cozy mystery is a good read and while you know right off who is going to get murdered (in cozies, it’s always the most obnoxious person in the first couple of chapters) its’ less easy to figure out who did the killing. This mystery is a good one and I didn’t figure it out – I had to wait until Charlie revealed who the murderer was!

If you’re looking for vacation reading, check out Miranda James’ mysteries. There are currently two series: this one (The Cat in the Stacks) and Southern Ladies (with 2 elderly Southern belles solving mysteries) that are very well written and fun.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the book has a giant house cat and a librarian as its’ central characters! Also, it’s just a darn good story.

Reviewer:

toby-loc

Toby

Arsenic and Old Books

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Arsenic and Old Books
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2015

Charlie Harris and Diesel return again, this time to solve the murder of a college professor that is widely disliked by students, faculty, Charlie and even Diesel. When the mayor of Athena, Mississippi shows up in the archive with 4 diaries that her husband’s distant grandmother wrote before,during and after the Civil War, a new war begins for those diaries. What do they contain that causes so much clamor and ultimately the death of the professor? Charlie and Diesel will find out!!

Main Characters
*Charlie Harris, librarian, semi-retired, working as an archivist in the local college library, most of his days are quietly spent cataloging old books and papers while Diesel sleeps in the window. Somehow trouble seems to find them and in this book its’ no exception. The Rachel Long diaries cause quite a stir, especially when Charlie starts discovering all the secrets it holds.
*Diesel, a gentle giant of a cat, a Maine Coon, seems to know exactly where to be at the right time. He does give Charlie quite the fright when he briefly disappears from the office.

Secondary Characters
*Lucinda Beckwith Long, Mayor of Athena, her family (and her husbands’) has a long history of politics, power and money in the region. Her son, Beck Long is running for state office and she donates the diaries in hopes his ancestor’s experiences will encourage voters
*Dr. Marie Steverton, history professor at the college, pushy, rude and totally unliked by any of the characters; she and Lucinda go back a long way and she wants those diaries. She has a definite way of getting what she wants, no matter who gets in the way.
*Kelly Grimes, another pushy woman who lies to Charlie about why she is demanding to see the diaries,

Continuing Characters
*Deputy Kanesha Berry, Sheriff’s deputy and reluctantly tolerates Charlie’s continuing presence in solving crimes.
*Azalea, Charlie’s housekeeper and mother of Kanesha; she keeps Charlie and Diesel well fed.
*Melba, secretary to Peter Vanderkeller, the director of the library, works downstairs from Charlie and Diesel; knows all the gossip around town
*Helen Louise Brady, Charlie’s love (he doesn’t like the word ‘girlfriend’), she makes an occasional appearance whenever Charlie and Diesel go to her place for lunch

Like the other books, I really enjoyed Arsenic and Old Books; although it wasn’t until the very end the arsenic came into play, the old books were there from the first page. The story delves into the past quite a bit as the diaries play an important role, but the story isn’t overloaded with static historical information. I really liked this book. The mystery is well developed and it wasn’t until the very end I figured out who the murderer was. I guessed several times along the way, but I was wrong. I guess that’s part of the fun of mysteries! Anyway, if you want a relaxing read, and a good mystery, this is the story for you. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the mystery was over and the book had to end. I wanted to keep on reading about the folks of Athena, Mississippi!

Rating: 4 paws out of 5 because I can’t wait for 2016 to get here to read the next installment!!

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

“Miranda James” a pseudonym of Dean James

Murder By The Book » Where a good crime is had by all!Click on the image above for another review!

Miranda James - Cat in the Stacks mysteriesClick on the image above to be directed to Miranda James website!

And of course, I have to close the review with a picture of a Maine Coon!!

File M for Murder

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File M for Murder
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Publishing Group, 2012

Diesel is back again with his comforting chirps and warbles for those he loves during a very stressful episode. He also saves his family from a letter bomb! Smart cat, that Diesel. Charlie’s daughter comes to Athena to teach an acting class at the college and has to deal with an obnoxious playwright and his psycho stalker.

Main Characters:
*Charlie Harris, rare book librarian and cataloger, doesn’t get to spend as much time in the library during this book because of all the craziness happening at home.

*Diesel, Charlie’s sidekick, a very large Maine Coon with a keen sense of human character.
*Laura Harris, Charlie’s daughter, home for a semester from Hollywood, is suspected of the murder of her former fiancé and then someone attempts to kill her three times because she may – or may not – know information pertinent to the murder.

Continuing Characters:
*Sean Harris, Charlie’s son – he is a lawyer who recently quit his practice in Houston to move to small town Mississippi. He lives in Charlie’s house.

*Stewart Delacorte and Justin Wardlaw, boarders in Charlie’s house. Stewart teaches at –  and Justin attends –  Athena College.
*Kanesha Berry, Chief Deputy Sheriff in charge of the murder investigation, reluctantly accepts Charlie’s help again with solving the murder.
*Azalea Berry and Helen Louise Brady are around also with their delicious food!

New Characters:
*Connor Lawton, writer-in-residence, playwright and Laura’s former fiancé. The words arrogant and obnoxious are too nice to be used to describe him. Maybe just plain yucky would be adequate. Anyway, someone has had enough from him and takes him out, permanently  – but who? He never met a person who didn’t hate him. The list is so long with suspects!!

*Damitra Vane, Connor’s former girl friend and current psycho stalker. She makes more than one attempt to accost and threaten Laura.
*Ralph “Montana” Johnston, writer of deplorable plays & his wife, Magda Johnston who is carrying on with Connor.
*Sarabeth Conley, she works in the theater department and used to take care of Charlie when he was a little boy. We find out later she also babysat Connor – hmmm, I wonder what dark secrets she’s hoarding?

Another well written and relaxing cozy mystery read from Miranda James. Like the others I’ve read, this book is hard to put down. Each chapter just leads seamlessly into the next one and before I know it I’ve read half the book and spent several blissful hours doing so. I love the world the author has created as well as the mystery. I did guess one of the culprits early on but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws  – because of Diesel, of course!!

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

Dean James aka Miranda JamesYes, this is Miranda James! It’s a pseudonym of Dean James.

Click on the banner below for her/his website!!

Miranda James - Cat in the Stacks mysteries

maine coon cat   Maine Coon Cat - Cat Breed Profile

Classified as Murder

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Classified as Murder
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2011

This is the second in the cozy mystery series, A Cat in the Stacks starring Charlie Harris and Diesel, the Maine Coon. In this murder mystery, Charlie is hired by a wealthy book collector in town to catalog his rare books collection. He suspects someone in the house is  stealing his books – or at least mixing them up on his orderly shelves. But just when Charlie and Diesel get started, his new employer is murdered and he finds himself in the middle of another crime investigation.

Main Characters:
*Charlie Harris, on vacation from his regular job at the college, he agrees to help inventory a wealthy book collector’s library. Diesel, of course, goes with him on his job and by the afternoon of the first day, his employer is dead!
*Sean Harris, Charlie’s son, in town from Houston where he quit work as a corporate lawyer; he and his father, Charlie, are having a difficult time getting it together after the death of his mom, Charlie’s wife.

Continuing Characters:
*Azalea, Charlie’s housekeeper is a bright spot in anyone’s kitchen, but particularly Charlie’s.
*Deputy Kanesha Berry, Azalea’s daughter and the deputy assigned to the case, actually enlists Charlie’s help this time with the investigation.
*Helen Louise Brady, owner of the bakery where Charlie and Diesel go for lunch; she is sweet on Charlie, but he doesn’t really realize it – yet. Sean has to point it out to him.

Secondary (New) characters:
*James Delacorte, the elderly and eccentric  – not to mention wealthy – book collector who is the head of a crazy and greedy family, one of who wants him dead
*Nigel Truesdale, the butler (as in “the butler did it”?) who has been with Mr. Delacorte for many years
*Hubert Morris, nephew, cruel husband to Eloise, unable to hold down a job; he sponges off of James for years.
*Eloise Morris, wife to Hubert, and a bit off the beam – when not lucid she dresses like Scarlet O’Hara – with hoop skirts and crinolines, the perfect Southern Belle. (This brings to mom’s mind the episode of Designing Women when the ladies were discussing Bernice, a long-time family friend. They described her as “off the beam” and Julia said something like: “the difference between us and the north is that they lock their crazy relatives away while in the South we bring them out into the parlor for everybody to see.”)
*Daphne Morris, sister to James, mother to Hubert, self-centered and hypochondriac to the extreme.
*Stewart Delacourt, cousin, works at Athena College, a bit eccentric himself
*Cynthia Delacourt, ice queen, a nurse who rarely shows any emotion

This is a wonderful cast of characters and the person who killed James is probably not who we think it is. The author surprised us in the first book and I expect no less in this one! Warning: this book is addictive – as is the whole series. I’ve got the rest of them checked out from the library, sitting on the desk, ready to read!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the author mentions another of our favorite authors, Eudora Welty!

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

Yes, this is Miranda James – pseudonym for Dean James!

Tamerlane by Edgar Allen Poe figures heavily into the mystery!!!

Murder Past Due

Murder Past Due
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2010

A cozy murder mystery, Murder Past Due, takes place in the home town of the main character. It is a smallish southern town where everybody knows what is going on in everybody’s lives, or at least they think they do. Into the mostly quiet life of Charlie Harris comes a nemesis from his high school days, Godfrey Priest, bestselling author of violent murder thrillers and all around jerk. One day in town and somebody murders Godfrey. Through his subtle investigation, Charlie finds out he isn’t the only one with a bad memory of Godfrey and more than one person would have wanted him dead.

Main Characters
*Charlie Harris, a librarian who has been widowed 2 years, lives a quiet, orderly life in his deceased aunt’s house, letting out rooms to young men who attend the local college.

*Diesel, a Maine Coon of a couple of years that was rescued by Charlie; Diesel is the life of the place wherever he goes. Charlie takes him all over town on his leash, charming grumpy deputies and soothing broken hearts.

Secondary Characters
*Godfrey Priest, blows into to town every few years mostly to flaunt his wealth and celebrity to the hometown folks. He made a lot of enemies in high school and since.
*Justin Wardlaw, 18 year old who boards with Charlie, suffers through some pretty traumatic days short life and Diesel is there to pick up the pieces.
*Julia Wardlaw, Justin’s mom who harbors a secret that Godfrey is back in town to expose.
*Deputy Kanesha Berry, in charge of her first murder investigation is testy, stubborn and ready to run anyone over who gets in her way, including Charlie and Diesel.

I really liked this book. I got it from the library after reading a review of a more recent book by the same author on the blog, Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries, & Meows. Mudpie gave the novel in a different series an excellent review and I will be reading that one soon (as soon as our turn comes up on the Hold list). What I like about it, aside from the costarring role of Diesel, is that it’s just a plain good story, with likeable characters, believable plotlines, and it is effortless. By that I mean after reading books that taxed my brain and frustrated me because they didn’t live up to the hype, Murder Past Due was like the scent of coffee on a cold, cold morning. Warm, comforting, good. (Mom’s words, I don’t drink coffee! For me it would be like a freshly caught tuna, cleaned and filleted just for me!!) I don’t know if the other books in the series are as likeable as this one but we can’t wait to find out.

Rating: 4 paws out of 5, for a nice mystery without misery. 5 paws for Diesel!!

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

 Dean+James+AKA+Miranda+James.jpg Yes, this is Miranda James – a pseudonym of Dean James!

This is Mudpie who reviews mysteries on Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries and Meows!!

UK cover

Other books in the series – I’ll be reading all of them!!!

  File M for Murder / Miranda James | Kit-Kats | Pinterest  Out of Circulation (ebook) by Miranda James | 9781101619117  Miranda James is the pseudonym for Dean James, the New York Times ...  Lesa's Book Critiques: Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James

A big Maine Coon !!!

Maine Coon Cats | Brief History Of The Maine Coon Cat