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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    by Jennifer Hofmann
    The title of Jennifer Hofmann's perceptive debut novel with its bureaucratese strongly suggests a ...
  • Book Jacket: His Only Wife
    His Only Wife
    by Peace Adzo Medie
    21-year-old Afi is a talented Ghanaian seamstress eager to study fashion design, but her life is ...
  • Book Jacket: We Have Been Harmonized
    We Have Been Harmonized
    by Kai Strittmatter
    You'd be forgiven if, while reading We Have Been Harmonized, you momentarily mistook it for a ...
  • Book Jacket: Jack
    Jack
    by Marilynne Robinson
    If you are a fan of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead series, you already know who Jack is. Chances are, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Ruthie Fear
    by Maxim Loskutoff

    In this haunting parable of the American West, a young woman faces the violent past of her remote Montana valley.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Girl is A Body of Water
    by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

    A powerful portrait of a young Ugandan girl and her family.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Find Me
by André Aciman

The author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name revisits its complex and beguiling characters.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
by Natasha Trethewey

The moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of tragedy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L N Take I C

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.