Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cozying Up With a Cozy: Jenn McKinlay Library Lover's series

It's the Dog Days of August in Northwest Louisiana, and what's a girl to to do but curl up in an air-conditioned cottage with a good book or two and some Sangria wine to take her mind off the weather.  At least that's the advice I gave myself this week.  And, best of all, I found the perfect companion with Jenn McKinlay, author of the new Library Lover's mystery series.  When I haven't been glued to the TV watching the Summer Olympics, I've been reading.

Author Jenn McKinlay on her board

Author Jenn McKinlay may be familiar to some of you with her Cupcake Bakery series, but the Library Lover's mysteries are my introduction to her work.  I discovered McKinlay thanks to Cathy's Kittling: Books blog .

First, a word about Jenn McKinlay.  I learned from her website that she is the mother of boys, a skateboard enthusiast, horseback rider, hang glider pilot, wife of a musician, and has written books under her own name, as well as pseudonyms.  She now has five mystery series in the works.  Wow!  She's clearly either crazy, on speed, or just highly energetic and efficient with an enthusiasm for living life to the fullest.

After reading the Kittling Books review and discovering that the books are set in a small town library, I thought I would enjoy this series.  Loving the immediate gratification of my Kindle, I downloaded Books Can Be Deceiving and Due or Die--and began reading.

Books Can Be Deceiving, by Jenn McKinlay
Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.  Kindle download

After being downsized from her university archivist position and discovering her professor fiance was cheating on her with a student, Lindsey Norris is looking for a place to start over and finds it in coastal Connecticut as the Director of the Briar Creek Library where her college friend, Beth Stanley, is the children's librarian. Beth is having man problems of her own.  She is engaged to a selfish, reclusive children's author/illustrator, Rick Eckman, who is as "icky" as his name implies.  When Rick is found murdered, Beth becomes the chief suspect after the police discover that Rick and Beth had a public quarrel and Beth had gone to Rick's house to confront him about his lying and dishonesty.  Lindsey and her friends must discover the real murderer because the police chief has stopped looking--he is convinced the perpetrator is Beth!  Books Can Be Deceiving is a great title for this book, and Lindsey is determined to uncover the layers of deceit and clear Beth in the process.

Sometimes I find McKinlay tries too hard with her metaphors.  It's not that they aren't evocative or descriptive, but for me, they interrupt the flow of her story.  Examples are: "Not surprisingly sleep eluded Lindsey like a cat that did not want to be found." or "The bike ride into work woke her up, as the brisk October air pinched her cheeks like an affectionate auntie."

However, McKinlay creates an interesting group of people who live in Briar Creek: the retired actress, Violet LaRue; Lindsey's landlady, Nancy, a widow; Mary who owns the local diner with her husband, Ian; Mary's brother Michael "Sully" Sullivan who begins to ignite Lindsey's interest in men again; Mrs. Cole, "the lemon" and Lindsey's nemesis at the library; Milton Duffy, the 82 year old yogi and frequent visitor to the library.  These characters all are back for book 2 in the series, Due or Die.

Due or Die, by Jenn McKinlay
Berkley Prime Crime, 2012. Kindle download

Carrie Rushton, a well-respected nurse, is elected President of the Friends of the Library in an acrimonious election.  A couple of the townspeople are upset by the election, and one unhinged library patron makes veiled threats against both Carrie and Lindsey as director of the library.  When Carrie's generally disliked husband is murdered the night of the election, people wonder if Carrie is the intended target or if she could be the murderer.  Carrie is so upset by the murder, she moves in with Nancy and Lindsey in Nancy's home where Lindsey has an apartment. 

Lindsey seems slow to suspect that there is more going on at the Briar Creek library than meets the eye, but after a series of mishaps, the mystery is satisfactorily solved. 

As the Kittling Books blog suggests, one of the most enjoyable parts of Due or Die is experiencing, vicariously, the nor'easter that buffets Briar Creek during the course of the book, while here in my world the outside the temperatures hover around 100 degrees.  Hurricane force winds are not unknown to Louisiana, by any means, but to pair the wind with a blizzard and frigid temperatures, then it begins to sound truly uncomfortable.

This strengths of this series don't lie in the tension of the plot, the keen detective work of Lindsey and her friends, or the thrill of the discovery of the murderer. It's about spending a relaxing evening in the company of people who are becoming folks you care about and want to get to know better.  Add a lovable mutt into the mix and the appeal factor keeps going up.  If you like a cozy mystery series that doesn't take itself too seriously, I recommend this one.  Book 3 in the Library Lover's series, Book, Line and Sinker, is scheduled for release December 2012


  1. Hi, Teresa! I'm so glad you enjoy Jenn's books. If you ever get a chance to meet her, please do so. She's a very funny, smart, and caring lady.

    I'm also hoping that you'll send me an email (KittlingBooks(at)gmail(dot)com) I have a question for you!