BookBrowse Reviews Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Murder at the 42nd Street Library

A Mystery

by Con Lehane

Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane X
Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2016, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


An introduction to librarian and reluctant sleuth Raymond Ambler in this first book in a new mystery series by Con Lehane.

It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling down for a day of research, it's inevitable that other books catch your eye. How did you not know about this one? Wait, another one?! Where has that one been all your life? Soon you're plunging deeper into the stacks, fascinated by potential treasures. The day grows dim outside and when you finally emerge - well, when did the evening show up?

Con Lehane's Murder at the 42nd Street Library, the first in his new series, has the same absorbing effect. It's a satisfying, slow-burning, complex mystery where, of course, the case is of utmost important to the characters, as it is in any mystery. But Lehane involves many more characters – and not just your typical suspects or law enforcement members. Raymond Ambler, for example, is the New York City research library's crime fiction collection curator, and he is working hard to figure out who shot Dr. James Donnelly in Library Director Harry Larkin's office. Moreover, as Ambler gets deeper into the case, aided by his vast knowledge of crime fiction and his personal reasons for crime solving, various factions in the library become more deeply involved. Chief among them is Maximilian Wagner, a blowhard biographer doing research in the collection of significant mystery writer Nelson Yates, who we learn later is slowly losing his mind. It's what Yates's disturbing past includes that drives most of the mystery.

The rest of the novel's characters are intricately and tightly woven together as they give their own perspectives in various chapters; from Adele, Ambler's friend who wants far more than the small life her mother left behind; to Mike Cosgrove, who's on the NYPD homicide squad and who has a lot in common with Ambler – especially their wives, both past and present; to Lehane's previous creation, bartender Brian McNulty, who led Lehane's three previous mysteries, proving to be the kind of helpful ally who doesn't always want to do what you claim you need done, but when times get desperate, he's there.

All of this feels like a full-scale deconstruction of the mystery novel. Especially Ambler's knowledge of crime fiction, full of observations like "in most murders the victim knows the killer," which seem to reveal to the reader the moving parts of a mystery. But Lehane trusts that the reader will still follow along, and perhaps gain even more interest by seeing what makes a mystery tick. The varied detours from the mystery into the lives of these characters keeps us riveted too, which gives us time to breathe and provides almost two novels in one: the mystery, of course, but also a character-driven story, as these people have fascinating lives! Mike Cosgrove being a "self-taught epicure," for instance; and the curious shoeshine boy, who plays a prominent part in the mystery.

And that library. Oh that 42nd Street Library! Even after the immense pleasure of knowing many of these people, the descriptions of the library, its stacks, and its offices are even more reason to read this mystery. There are continuous sighs of envy as more and more of it is revealed, imagining oneself there, and realizing that Lehane got to essentially live in this library twice – once for research, and then again in the writing of the novel. This will certainly happen a third time when the second book comes out, and there's no doubt that Lehane has a lot more to mine, both in the library and in mysteries to come. Library lovers are welcome here.

Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky

This review is from the Murder at the 42nd Street Library. It first ran in the May 18, 2016 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    by Ellen Cooney
    In One Night Two Souls Went Walking, we follow a young interfaith chaplain as she carries out her ...
  • Book Jacket: Truthtelling
    Truthtelling
    by Lynne Schwartz
    The word "unsayable" can mean something is too vast to be put into words. Alternatively, it can ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book Collectors
    The Book Collectors
    by Delphine Minoui
    About halfway through The Book Collectors, I was disappointed. I came into the book with a ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline
The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.