I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Meet Miss Zukas . . . the very proper, exceedingly conscientious, and relentlessly curious local librarian of tiny Bellehaven, Washington--and one heck of an amateur sleuth! The Bellehaven police are baffled when a dead body turns up right in the middle of the library's fiction stacks. But Miss Helma Zukas--who never fails to make note of the slightest deviation from the norm of everyday life--is not willing to let this rather nasty disruption stand. Her precious literary sanctuary has been violated, and if the local law cannot get to the bottom of this case, Miss Zukas certainly intends to--with the help of her not-so-proper best friend, Ruth, a six-foot-tall bohemian artist with a nose for gossip and a penchant for getting into trouble. But their research project is bringing them a little too close to a killer . . . who'd like nothing better than to write Helma and Ruth out of the story completely!
I’ve been having a grand time of late reading books about libraries and librarians. This first book in the Miss Zukas series was quite enjoyable and an easy, quick read at the end of a long-feeling week.
The book is chock full of librarian stereotypes—enjoyably so, as the author was a librarian at one point and uses them kindly and fondly. Miss Zukas inhabits an area somewhere between Nancy Drew and Miss Marple. She is no longer so young as Nancy Drew, but still single & overbearingly precise about things, somewhat reminiscent of Miss Marple. The author also uses her Lithuanian background to supply a family for Helma Zukas, a case of writing what one knows.
I loved Helma’s friend Ruth and their long friendship based on their surnames starting with letters at the end of the alphabet—in school, they were always at the end of any activity requiring a roll call. I found that true to life—sometimes your childhood friendships hinge on these little quirks.
I’ve always been rather puzzled but the concept of a cozy mystery—how can anything involving murder actually be cozy? But this murder mystery will never made you look over your shoulder with any sense of dread (even if you work in a library, as I do). I would have to say that it gets sewn up satisfactorily and could probably be considered “cozy.”
I will definitely read more Miss Zukas at some point in the future, but it will be awhile. My public library doesn’t have the early volumes of the series, so I will have to interlibrary loan them, as I did with this volume.