Monday, September 16, 2019

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook - Book Review, Character Interview

Today, I'm featuring a new author to me. But when I see a paranormal cozy mystery, I'm usually at the beginning of the train to read and explore a new author and series, which is what happened with Allison Brook and her Haunted Library Mysteries.

This post comprises 3 parts, my book review of Buried in the Stacks and an interview with Carrie Singleton, the main character in the book series.

Book: Buried in the Stacks
(Book 3 in the Haunted Library Mysteries)
Author: Allison Brook
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication date: 10 September 2019
Number of pages: 320
ISBN-10: 1643851381
ISBN-13: 978-1643851389
Digital ASIN: B07NKPTL81

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin'. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?
In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.
As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her--and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library's resident ghost, six years earlier.
And then Dorothy is murdered--run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece's killer, but that's no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook is the third instalment in the paranormal cozy mystery series the Haunted Library Mysteries. I was excited to read this book for a number of reasons, chief among them was the ghost and that the main character didn't own a small business like most cozy mysteries, which is also similar to a cozy I'm working on.

Narrated in the first person by Carrie Singleton, Buried in the Stacks is my first read for Allison Brook. The narrative is easy to navigate, though many times I felt that Carrie might have been older than the author intended, that or because she hadn't pointed out her age.

It takes a while for the 'death' to arise but as readers, we learn that a particular Dorothy Hawkins "made it her business to ferret out people's secrets, which she threatened to expose if they didn't do her bidding." At the start, Carrie reveals that Dorothy "had it in" for her because she wanted Carrie's post, which is head of programs and events. Despite that, Carrie and Dorothy "shared an uneasy truce."

Dorothy later slips on the ice and secretly tells Carrie that she suspects her husband tried to kill her. Later, Dorothy claims it was the meds talking. Later, the police find proof of this fear and tell Carrie that Dorothy thinks her husband was trying to kill her and claims that he'd killed her aunt, Evelyn, several years prior.

"We found something that supports what Dorothy told you in the hospital."
"So Dorothy really was afraid of her husband."

We also learn that Carrie, and her young niece Tacey, are the only ones who can see the library's resident ghost, Evelyn, who happens to be Dorothy's aunt. When Dorothy dies, Carrie's quest to find out her killer is mainly due to Evelyn's insistence that despite Dorothy's bad traits, an early death shouldn't have been her punishment.

Despite her position as an invisible ghost, Evelyn isn't as forthcoming as she should be. And Carrie points that out several times. She convinces Evelyn that she will have to "overcome her scruples about spying" if she wanted to find out what really happened to her niece. Referring to previous cases (and books), Carrie reveals that Evelyn had often withheld information that could have helped catch a killer. (Something Carrie also discusses in our interview, below)

Several mysteries are at play in Buried in the Stacks, in addition to Dorothy's death and its potential connection to her aunt Evelyn's, Carrie is drawn in the Haven House project, which is meant to help the homeless. Carrie is embroiled in the project, especially when rumors arise that it may just be a façade for gambling by night.

Though there are a lot of events and on-goings in the book, I felt that Buried in the Stacks dragged on a bit. I also came to conclusions a lot earlier than the main character Carrie did.

"Francesca seemed so bouncy and full of life, while [her sister] Dorothy was dark and gloomy and as sour as vinegar."

Like most mystery novels, character development isn't amazing but I liked how Carrie's views on family, whether immediate or in the larger sense, had developed along the way. Also, she at least tries to be careful in confirming her suspicions. She's not too reckless.

In terms of imagery, I didn't find much or anything that struck out. But I liked that the language was simple and I didn't have to revert to a dictionary too many times.

Last but not least, and though this is something I rarely comment on, I felt the book title Buried in the Stacks wasn't the right fit for this particular book. I know cozy mystery titles tend to have a pun in them but… I don't think this one was a fit. That or I didn't get it.

Overall, I think Buried in the Stacks is an interesting read. Carrie has her hands full and digs deep in Dorothy's and Evelyn's lives to unmask a killer who may have committed a crime nearly seven years prior to the present time.

Overall rating: 3.75 stars

Exclusive Interview with Carrie Singleton

As part of the blog tour, I'm doing an interview not with Allison Brook but with the main character in the Haunted Library Mysteries and Buried in the Stacks… Carrie Singleton. (This is called a character interview)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? And why did you leave the big city for the small town?
Carrie Singleton: My name is Carrie Singleton. I spent the seven years after college moving from town to town, unable to settle down. I was feeling sad when I came to stay with my great-aunt and uncle in Clover Ridge, CT, where my family used to have a farm. I got a low-level job in the library and was planning to move on, when I was offered the position of head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library. Though I was qualified for the job, I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay in Clover Ridge. I decided to give it a try. I discovered that I loved the work and I was soon developing friendships and starting a romance.

What is your favorite food?
Carrie Singleton: I love ethnic food. That said, my favorite cuisines are Italian and Indian.  Oh, and Turkish.

Being a librarian, can you name a favorite book? What is it?
Carrie Singleton: Two of my all-time favorite books are A SUITABLE BOY by Vickram Seth and THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton.

What was your first impression when you met your library's resident ghost? Can you tell us about that encounter?
Carrie Singleton: I was about to turn down the position of head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library, when a voice advised me to tell Sally, the director, that I'd think about it. The voice belonged to the ghost of Evelyn Havers, who used to work in the library. When we left Sally's office, Evelyn introduced herself. I was taken aback but was not as dumbstruck as most people would be.

Do other people in the town know about Evelyn – being a ghost?
Carrie Singleton: The only other person who can see and hear Evelyn is my little cousin Tacey. Tacey tried to give Evelyn cookies, until Evelyn and I got her to realize that Evelyn can't eat cookies.

How far has Evelyn helped you solve murders in the past?
Carrie Singleton: Evelyn lived all of her life in Clover Ridge and knows a good deal about the residents and some of their secrets that might impact homicide investigations. But sometimes Evelyn is less than forthright, as when her niece, the unpleasant reference librarian and my nemesis, was a murder suspect.  On occasion, Evelyn eavesdrops on patrons who are suspects or tells me if she sees them acting suspiciously during an investigation. She also offers me practical advice.

What is the funniest thing that's happened to you since you took over the Haunted Library?
Carrie Singleton: I can't think of anything that was especially funny.

Having encountered more than one dead body, do you think you now have a kind of immunity when it comes to dead bodies or do they still freak you out?
Carrie Singleton: It certainly freaked me out when a murder victim died right in front of me. I don't think I've developed any sort of immunity about this and would still get very upset if anyone else were to die in front of me or if I happened to find a dead body.

If someone were to solve a murder, what is the first piece of advice you would give them? Now that you're becoming an expert ;)
Carrie Singleton: My advice is: Consider who has something to gain with the dead person out of the picture. As an amateur sleuth, you can always question suspects, do research online, and I advise you to befriend the homicide detective in charge of the murder investigation.

About the Author:
Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.

Connect with Allison Brook via her Website, Amazon Page, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour including more book reviews, interviews, guest posts, and spotlights via Escape with Dolly Cas Virtual Book Tours.

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