Cozy Mystery Week Review: Death Overdue (Book #1: A Haunted Library Mystery Series) by Allison Brook (AKA Marilyn Levinson)

Death OverdueCarrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley          My Rating: 2½/5 stars

I’ve been mulling over this review for more than 24 hours and I still can’t quite come to decision on it’s overall likeability. Y’all know that means a list of likes and dislikes is coming up 😊

Likes: The minor characters made the largest impact in this read. Evelyn, the ghost librarian is something of a firecracker and full of town gossip. It’s Evelyn who helps Carrie settle into her new job, and Evelyn who helps Carrie understand the interpersonal dynamics of the library and Clover Ridge. Carrie’s aunt and uncle, Harriet and Bosco are two other favorites among the minor characters. Both Harriet and Bosco are two of the kindest, most caring people in all of Clover Ridge. They have spent their lives looking after Carrie, and now that she is a permanent resident, their objectives haven’t much changed. The final of the minor characters to make a splash is Carrie’s mysterious and totally sexy landlord, Dylan. Dylan is a tremendously wealthy an insurance investigator whose job often takes him away from home. From the moment he enters Carrie’s life, he is a person of interest and one who will be exciting to watch evolve.

The plot is also a solid part of this read and a like for me. There’s a lot going on from a cold case murder, to a new murder, to affairs and long hidden secrets and each thing is dealt with clearly and effectively throughout. With so much going on, things could have easily become muddled and confusing, but the author does a fine job of keeping everything clear and engaging. Every time Carrie hits a wall in her investigation, Evelyn the ghost comes to the rescue with some backstory or a new line of investigation that keeps things moving along.

Dislike: I only have one dislike for this read, but it is significant enough to drop my overall star rating to a mere 2½!! The major characters in this read really do suck!! The entire series is meant to revolve around Carrie Singleton and her new, adult life in Clover Ridge. The trouble with Carrie is how weak she is as a main character. In fact, I was probably a quarter of the way through the book before I could even remember Carrie’s name and why she is important to the read. In addition, some of the minor characters (see above) are so much stronger, they tended to overshadow Carrie and carry the story.

The other major characters specific to this read are the surviving family members of the original murder victim. The older son, Ryan is a complete a**hole with some serious and scary anger management issues, the younger son, Jared, is an insecure child in a man’s body, and the boys’ father, Bryce is just a sad and somewhat laughable character. The only person I felt any sort of sympathy for in this whole family is the dead woman and as the story unfolds, you discover she wasn’t precisely likeable either.

The Bottom Line: I have long told you, dear reader, of my love of strong, well-developed characters. I truly believe strong characters can carry a weak plot and really make a book far more enjoyable. The flip side of this situation is weak or disagreeable characters, such as those found in Death Overdue, ruining an otherwise good story. More than once, I considered DNFing this book, but then a minor character or a fun new plot twist would step in and keep me turning the pages. I finished this book, but can’t say it will ever be a recommended read from me. In fact, I am not even sure the strong cast of minor characters will even be enough to entice me into reading book two.

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