The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

“It’s not about where you came from. What kind of shit might have happened to you in the past. It’s about who you are. What you do with the opportunities life presents to you.”
― Lucy Foley, The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment is a locked room mystery that centers around the people living in a Paris apartment building. Jess needs a fresh start, especially since she doesn’t have a job anymore. After calling her half-brother Ben to ask if she can come crash with him, Jess is surprised that he isn’t there to greet her when she eventually shows up to his apartment building in Paris. He didn’t sound excited that she wanted to come last minute, but he’s family. Ben always keeps his word and would never leave her stranded.

When Jess eventually makes her way inside the building, she finds a very nice apartment that she is honestly surprised that Ben can afford. After all, he’s a journalist who mainly writes restaurant reviews and this is a fancy place. She searches his apartment, but there is no sign of Ben. Time passes and Ben still doesn’t show up. Jess starts digging into Ben’s life, starting with his neighbors. They are a slightly weird bunch, eclectic to put it nicely. Plus they’re not friendly. Jess’s innocent questions about Ben’s whereabouts put them on edge, which only prompts her to ask more questions. Why are they acting so cagey? And where is Ben?

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

As someone who grew up in libraries and now works in one, I am always interested when a new book about libraries is published. Eva Jurczyk’s debut novel was my latest read about libraries and the people who work there! While it wasn’t what I expected, I enjoyed the story that Jurczyk weaved about the integration of old and new and how that impacts the library world.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk is an interesting look into academia and the librarians that work behind the scenes to support that world. Univeristy libraries are vastly different than public libraries. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections as presented in this novel is more similar to our Richardson Sloane Special Collections Center at the Main Library, but deep down, university libraries are simply libraries and the librarians that work there feel the same about books as librarians everywhere else.

In The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Jurczyk discusses the mystery of closed stacks, ancient books, and the institutional knowledge that staff hold, as well as the secrets held by books and staff alike. Liesl Weiss has worked at the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections for years since its inception. Now Liesl is on the brink of retirement. She is actually on sabbatical working on writing a book(about books of course) when she receives devastating news: the director of the library has suffered a stroke and Liesl has been called back to run the library until he recovers. Liesl has been comfortable working behind the scenes managing details, but now working as the director, Liesl discovers that she can no longer stay in the background.

As she begins her new job, Liesl makes a shocking discovery: the library’s most prized and most recently purchased manuscript is missing. Liesl wants to alert the police and sound the alarm, but when she voices her wishes to the administration and other library staff, she is repeatedly told that reporting to the police is not an option. She needs to keep quiet in order to keep the donors happy. This decision requires Liesl to do some maneuvering to keep up appearances that everything is fine. That façade comes crashing down when a librarian goes missing as well.

Liesl must investigate both disappearances and what she discovers proves to her that someone in her department is responsible for the theft. She digs into her colleagues’ pasts to find out who could have done so. She eventually reaches out to the police and together they work to find answers. Liesl finds out truths about the people she works with that shakes her belief in the library, but that proves to her that changes must be put into place to preserve the library’s past, present, and future.

This book is also available in the following format:

Cozy Mystery Reads: Library Lover’s Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay has found her niche in cozy mysteries. She has a number of cozy mystery series, but the only one I have read so far is the Library Lover’s Mystery series and it is a joy to read. Usually I am hesitant to read anything about librarians for fear that they are portrayed stereotypically with no clue as to what being a librarian actually means, but the author’s background clearly helped her write this series. McKinlay studied English Literature and Library Science at Southern Connecticut State University and then worked as a librarian in Cromwell, Connecticut. She then left that job and moved to Arizona and began writing romances. After writing romances for a couple years(and deciding she needed a break), she started writing mysteries. McKinlay wrote mysteries for years and then began writing women’s fiction as well. The bulk of what she writes now consists of mysteries and romantic comedies. Three of her series have ended up on the New York Time’s best seller’s list so far.

The first title in the Library Lover’s Mystery series is Books Can Be Deceiving. In this book, readers are introduced to the life of Lindsey Norris, the new director of the Briar Creek Public Library located in Connecticut.

Lindsey is just getting settled into her new job as director of the local public library in Briar Creek. She has made friends within the community and has an established rhythm with her staff and library patrons. Lindsey’s friend, and children’s librarian, Beth always makes work more interesting. Outside of work, Beth has a goal of becoming a published children’s author. Beth’s boyfriend is already a famous children’s author and lives on one of the islands local to Briar Creek.

When a New York editor comes to town, Beth wants to meet with her to pitch her the children’s book she has been working on. When their meeting goes awry and Beth’s boyfriend gets in the way, Beth and Lindsey are flabbergasted. They decide to go to his island home to confront him. When Beth goes into his house, they find that he has been murdered. Since Beth found his body and was known to be upset with him, the police see her as the prime suspect. Lindsey knows that Beth could never kill anyone, but her opinion seems to be in the minority where the authorities are concerned. Lindsey must find out who really killed Beth’s boyfriend before she is arrested.

This book also contains a readers guide, knitting pattern, and recipes for food made throughout the book. A different Briar Creek Guide to Crafternoons can be found at the end of each book in the series.

A list of the books in the Library Lover’s Mystery series can be found at the end of this blog post. Certain titles can also be found in large print, CD audiobook, and on OverDrive.

Library Lover’s Mystery series

  1. Books Can Be Deceiving (2011)
  2. Due or Die (2012)
  3. Book, Line and Sinker (2012)
  4. Read It and Weep (2013)
  5. On Borrowed Time (2014)
  6. A Likely Story (2015)
  7. Better Late Than Never (2016)
  8. Death in the Stacks (2017)
  9. Hitting the Books (2018)
  10. Word to the Wise (2019)
  11. One for the Books (2020)
  12. Killer Research (2021)

Cozy Mystery Reads: Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien

Cozy mysteries have become one of my comfort reads in the last couple months. One of my favorite series that I have been reading is the Noodle Shop Mystery Series by Vivien Chien. Chien was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she grew up in a mixed-race home. She first started writing adventure stories in elementary school. Her love of writing and books only increased in the coming years. She attempted her first novel when she was 16. Now she is the author of the Noodle Shop Mystery series, which has seven published novels and an eighth scheduled to be published in January 2022.

All of the Noodle Shop Mystery series books can be found at one of the Davenport Public Libraries. A complete list of the books in this series can be found at the end of this blog post.

The first book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series is Death by Dumpling. Lana Lee never thought that she would end up back working at her family’s restuarant, Ho-Lee Noodle House. After a bad break-up and a dramatic walk-out from her last job, Lana’s life is in tatters. Not sure what to do, she decides to head back home and start waitressing at the restaurant as a way to begin putting her life back together. The downside: her mother. She wants to find Lana a husband and has been hinting towards various men around Asia Village that they would be perfect for her.

All thoughts of finding Lana a husband are put on the back burner after Asia Village’s property manager is found dead in his office. The restaurant is in the hot seat after it becomes known that an order of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee is found next to the body. Mr. Feng had a severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy that everyone in Asia Village knew about, so the discovery of the shrimp dumplings causes major concern. The whole restaurant is under suspicion and that of course causes the local media to descend upon the plaza searching for clues. Lana must find a way to clear the family and their employees, and restore the restaurant’s name.

Noodle Shop Mystery series

  1. Death By Dumpling (2018)
  2. Dim Sum of All Fears (2018)
  3. Murder Lo Mein (2019)
  4. Wonton Terror (2019)
  5. Egg Drop Dead (2020)
  6. Killer Kung Pao (2020)
  7. Fatal Fried Rice (2021)
  8. Hot and Sour Suspects (2022)

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

‘She felt quite light-headed. Low blood sugar, maybe, or perhaps it was the dizzying effect of watching her horizons, narrowed for so long, expanding once again.’

Paula Hawkins’ latest thriller A Slow Fire Burning is a book that messes with your mind, but in a good way. Hawkins has written a book that talks about how far someone is willing to go to find peace (or revenge).

Someone has been killed. A young man was found gruesomely murdered in his London houseboat. When the authorities start investigating, questions begin to mount surrounding three women who knew him and the others living in his periphery.

Laura is a troubled young woman who was the last person seen both with the victim and in his home. Their one-night stand was fraught with violence, something that Laura admits to the police when questioned. Laura was in a devastating car accident when she was young that left her hot-tempered, rash, and dangerous. Others judge her, something that has left Laura living as a loner.

Miriam knows all too well about how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the person who lives in the houseboat next to the dead man, Miriam has a unique insight into his life, plus she’s nosy. She also knows that just because she saw Laura leaving the houseboat covered in blood, that doesn’t mean she killed him. Miriam has been taken advantage of one too many times, so she will do whatever it takes to clear Laura of any wrongdoing.

Carla’s nephew was just brutally murdered. Her sister died in an accident eight weeks earlier. So much tragedy in such a short amount of time has left her completely stricken and at a loss. Carla no longer trusts anyone and views those around her as damaged creatures. All she wants is peace. Or does she?

Others circulate behind the scenes: Carla’s husband Theo and the women who lives next door to the deceased man’s mother. Everyone in this story is filled with resentment. While their reasons may be varied, they all desire to right the wrongs perpetrated against them. Their journeys to revenge will lead them to peace or destruction, risks they are all willing to take.

This book is also available in the following formats:

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Paula McLain has written an intense historical thriller detailing the life of a seasoned detective haunted by cases from her past. While in the past McLain has written historical fiction that takes place further in the past, this title is still set in the past, albeit the 1970s to the 1990s. This book is also sprinkled with true events, but it is a decided shift from her other novels.

When the Stars Go Dark digs into the life of missing persons detective Anna Hart. After a tragic event rocks her life, Anna is desperate for an escape. She heads to Mendocino, California to grieve and process what has happened. Mendocino is the closest town Anna has to home. Having grown up in the foster care system, Mendocino was the place where she found two of her most supportive foster parents. When she arrives, she expects comfort, safety, and most importantly solitude, but instead Anna finds that her work has followed her. A local girl has gone missing, leaving Anna feeling like she has to help.

This new missing persons case reminds Anna of her childhood when a local girl in her community went missing and was later found murdered. That case is still unsolved and has left the community changed. Anna volunteers her services to help with the new missing girl case. The more she works, the more the past and present interfere with each other. During her career as a missing persons detective, Anna focused on how victims come into contact with violent predators. Her knowledge of that process comes in handy as she begins searching for the missing girl. Her search slowly becomes an obsession. Anna will do anything to find this girl and to not let the past repeat itself, but soon realizes that she needs the help of others if she wants to solve this case and bring the girl home.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

In November every year, I try to read as many mysteries as I can. This November, I decided to focus on cozy mysteries partly because Checked In: A Davenport Library Podcast, hosted by three DPL librarians, will be talking about cozy mysteries, amongst other things, in our November episode. (You should check it out to hear myself and two other librarians talk about all things library). Cozy mysteries are considered the gentle reads of the mystery genre. They generally avoid graphic violence, sexual content, and profanity, but feature instead unlikely detectives. Right up my alley!

On my quest to read more cozy mysteries, I discovered Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. This book is the first in a brand new series called Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery. (The second title Homicide and Halo-Halo is set to come out in February 2022.)This culturally diverse title is full of sharp humor and delicious food. The author even includes a list of recipes at the end of the novel. The end of this book clearly sets you up for a sequel. You even get to read a snippet of the next book in the series.

Lila Macapagal has moved back home. This was not what she wanted to do, but after a nasty breakup and not having completed college, Lila doesn’t really have any other options. Now living back home with her grandmother and aunt, Lila must figure out ways to help save her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant. In addition to that huge task, Lila is also dealing with her big group of matchmaking aunties/godmothers who want her to settle down and be happy. They love her, but that love is tinged with judgment.

Lil’s ex-boyfriend also keeps popping up in her life too. He is a food critic that has been targeting all the local restaurants for the last couple years and is destroying businesses through his reviews. He has become increasingly nasty and has set his sights on Tita Rosie’s restaurant. While eating one day at the restaurant, he drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila. The aftermath of that has drastic consequences for the family. The local police treat Lila like she is their only suspect, their landlord wants to use the death as an excuse to kick the family out of the restaurant, and Lila’s best friend has started acting weird. Refusing to let her family be persecuted for something that they didn’t do, Lila decides to start investigating herself with the help of her family and friends. What she discovers is more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron

Hallie Ephron is known for writing mystery and suspense novels. Her newest novel Careful What You Wish For is her latest offering.

Emily Harlow is a professional organizer. She loves to help people declutter their lives which is a bit ironic because Emily’s own life is a complete mess. Her husband is a hoarder. He has filled their basement, attic, and garage with all of the treasures that he has found at different yard and estate sales. Emily and her husband have an understanding though that she will not touch his finds. This marriage compromise is slowly making Emily’s life more stressful as his belongings spread throughout more of the house.

Desperate to get back to some sort of normalcy, Emily is relieved when she has two new clients sign up. One is an elderly widow finally ready to clear out her house of any reminder of her husband. Said husband also left behind a storage unit that the wife had no idea existed. Emily’s other new client is a young wife who wants to get rid of all of her belongings that have been sitting in the garage ever since she moved in with her husband. You see, her husband didn’t allow any of her belongings into the house. At all.

After the initial meetings, Emily discovers that both of her new clients are hiding something. The mess Emily finds herself in has the power to destroy her life. She must get creative in order to find her way out or she may lose her marriage, her job, or even her life.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley is one woman’s story of struggling to find her identity when forced to view what she thought was true through a different perspective.

Daunis Fontaine has never fit in. She is a biracial, unenrolled Ojibwe tribal member and the product of a scandal. Her family members are split between her hometown, where her mother’s family lives, and the nearby Ojibwe reservation, where her father’s family lives. Not recognized as complete by either side of her family, Daunis both yearns to escape to a new place and to stay to help her people move forward in life.

Daunis defers going to the University of Michigan in order to stay home, help care for her ailing grandmother, and to be a support system for her mother.  With her future on hold, she works to turn her life into something of which she can be proud. Daunis spends an increased amount of time with her brother Levi and his friends. Levi is a star hockey player, like Daunis, and she soon finds herself becoming quick friends with Jamie, the new recruit on Levi’s team. The more she falls for Jamie, the more confused she becomes. Daunis can’t help thinking that Jamie is hiding something. Things aren’t adding up.

One night Daunis witnesses a shocking murder that jolts her out of what little comfort she has. Now in the middle of a criminal investigation, Daunis finds herself forced into life as an undercover informant. She is asked to inform on her family and friends, looking for criminals and searching for any clues about what is plaguing her area. Daunis has an in-depth knowledge of both traditional medicine and chemistry, a skill that her uncle helped foster within her.

The deeper her investigation goes, the harder it is for Daunis to figure out who is telling the truth. She must learn to rely on herself, to draw strength from her ancestors, and to figure out how far she is willing to go.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Liz Moore’s newest book, Long Bright River, is a dive into drug addiction and the impact it has on families across generations. Alternating back and forth the present and past, Moore tells the moving story of two sisters and the additions that define their lives and relationships.

Mickey and Kacey are sisters. Living in Philadelphia, the two travel the same streets on a daily basis, but they live vastly different lives. Growing up in a Philadelphia neighborhood that saw the opioid crisis destroy their family and the community around them, Mickey and Kacey have changed immensely since their childhood days. As children, the two were inseparable, sharing a bed in their grandmother’s house and struggling to survive in a world without their parents. Kacey always stuck up for Mickey, keeping her safe and taking her side. Mickey, the older sister, kept an eye out for Kacey, making sure that she was where she needed to be.

Mickey is a police officer. Kacey lives on the streets, struggling with addiction. They haven’t spoken in years, yet Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey as she drives through the area. Mickey never stops worrying about her sister, hoping she will eventually get, and stay, sober.

One day, Mickey realizes that she hasn’t seen Kacey in a while. She has disappeared. Mickey starts asking around and people are hesitant to say anything about her whereabouts. The same time that Kacey disappeared, a string of murders starts in Mickey’s district. This extra stress leads Mickey to take the law in her own hands. She will do anything to find the person responsible for the murders, and hopefully her sister, before her world comes crashing down.

This book is also available in the following formats: