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)

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is a crime novel that quickly draws you into the story and has you looking closely at how far you would be willing to go to help a family member.

Korrede is just sitting down to dinner when she gets a frantic phone call from her sister, Ayoola, desperately needing her help. Rushing out of the house, Korrede hopes that her sister hasn’t done what she thinks she has done. Ayoola, Korrede’s younger sister, has a rather inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. She always draws Korrede into the mess, asking her to help her cover up the crime.

Korrede is bitter. Ayoola is her younger sister and clearly her mother’s favorite. Ayoola is beautiful and can get any man to love her. Men flock to Ayoola and she always has a next man lined up.

Helping her sister through all her problems, Korrede is still hopeful that eventually Ayoola will stop and change. Korrede’s saving grace is her job as a nurse at a local hospital. While some of the people that she works with get on her nerves, Korrede looks forward to working with the kind and very handsome doctor who treats her as an equal. She hopes that one day he will realize that they are perfect together.

All of Korrede’s hopes are shattered the day that Ayoola stops by the hospital uninvited and catches the attention of the doctor. They instantly connect and Korrede is forced to deal with Ayoola’s past. She needs to figure out what to do before Ayoola slips and attacks the doctor.

This book is also available in the following format:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

They were just six days at the end of a miserably hot summer. Yet to 13-year-old Henry those six days will change everything about his life in Labor Day by Joyce Maynard.

For Henry, the days pass monotonously – his emotionally fragile mother Adele has mostly checked out of life, rarely leaving the house. His father has a new family on the other side of town. Henry, lonely and awkward, and at that stage when you know so much and yet so little, just wishes something would happen. And then, Frank, bleeding and limping, walks into their lives. Henry has no idea how different he will be in six days. He will learn how to bake a pie, how to throw a baseball, the pain of jealousy and betrayal, and the power of love. Those six days will shape him into the man he will become.

Frank is an escaped prisoner who has been serving time for murder who seeks sanctuary with Henry and his mother. He is kind and thoughtful and soon Adele and Frank fall in love. They make plans to escape together to Canada. Henry struggles with this new person in their lives – relief that he is no longer the only person responsible for his mother’s happiness, fear that he’ll be left behind.

Narrated by Henry as an adult looking back on those six days, you hear the angst of the teenager softened by the perspective of time. It is written with simplicity and eloquence and a sympathetic understanding of the emotional complexity of people. The extended epilogue –  particularly the last sentence – brings the story to an especially yet realistic satisfying conclusion.