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).
Spunky librarian Karen Nash is back in London and planning to open a bookstore with her beau, Caldwell Perkins, who owns a B&B. Unexpectedly, Sally, Caldwell’s tall, gorgeous, and blonde ex-girlfriend shows up—possibly to reclaim the B&B—and just maybe Caldwell, too. Sally’s current boyfriend, Alfredo, joins her, and they take a room.
That night, Karen is awakened by a horrible crash. Caldwell isn’t in bed with her. She rushes out to the hall to find him standing in the doorway of the inn’s library with a look of horror on his face. Inside the room all Karen can see is a woman’s hand sticking out from under a massive pile of pages and wood. While Sally’s death appears an accident, Karen finds it hard to believe. How did the heavy oak bookshelf topple over? Karen fears Sally has been murdered. The detective on the case comes to the same conclusion and decides Caldwell is the most likely suspect.
In order to save her boyfriend, Karen must figure out what Sally was looking for in the library and what Caldwell was doing up in the middle of the night. A story of intrigue and revenge, Death Overdue is a page-turning mystery featuring a loveable heroine who loves books almost as much as she loves her man.
While this is a good cozy mystery, it really doesn’t live up to the charm of the first volume. Perhaps part of the problem is that Karen and Caldwell seem to have settled in as a couple, removing that source of tension from the plot. Add to that the fact that this plot seems to be a mere inversion of the plot of the previous book--in Killer Librarian, it was Karen who was under suspicion of killing her ex-boyfriend, Dave the plumber. This time around, Caldwell’s former woman pops back up in their B&B, accompanied by her Italian fiance, and ends up dead under a tipped-over bookcase.
Kirwin gives a tip of the hat to Agatha Christie, as she has Karen assemble all those involved in a Poirot-like reveal at the end of the book, but there is little time given to the book-love that brought Karen to London in the first place and cemented her relationship with Caldwell. The first volume also was somewhat amusing, with Karen’s pursuit of her cheating ex and a pair of eccentric sisters also staying in the B&B. That humour was missing from this volume and it suffered a bit from that lack.
I have to also say that although Karen & Caldwell are sharing a bed and are considering spending life together, the reader never observes them do more than kiss. Not that it’s necessary, but I just found it odd that their physical relationship received such short shrift.
Cozy mysteries really aren’t my thing--I prefer darker mysteries, preferably with forensics involved. I am always willing, however, to read a book featuring a library or librarian, so I had to give it a try. Although I can see where there is potential for future volumes involving Karen Nash, I am also unsurprised that there hasn’t been another volume published since 2013.