Guest Post: New Year’s Resolutions for Cozy Mystery Readers by Dorothy St. James

Table of contents

First in a new series featuring Tru Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer! – The Broken Spine @DorothyWrites

Guest Post

New Year’s Resolutions for Cozy Mystery Readers
by Dorothy St. James

Since it’s still January—and let’s face it most of us have already given up on whatever resolutions we made on Dec. 31—I thought I’d make some suggestions of New Year resolutions specifically geared to us cozy mystery fans.

  1. Bake a recipe found at the end of a culinary mystery. Yum!
  2. Avoid being the most unpleasant person in your town. (They’re always getting killed off in a cozy mystery.)
  3. Take up knitting…or some other new craft that you’ve read about in a crafting mystery.
  4. Adopt a dog or a cat to act as your sidekick as you solve mysteries in your own neighborhood.
  5. Visit your local library and check out a series you’ve never read before.
  6. Visit your local bookstore and buy the next book in a series that you love. (That’s an easy one to accomplish!)
  7. Donate a few of your cozy mystery books to a little free library.
  8. Tell a neighbor about your favorite cozy mystery series.
  9. Never believe the most obvious suspect is guilty of the crime you’re trying to solve.
  10. No matter how crazy or busy your life gets, always make time for reading.

Here’s to a better and delightfully mysterious 2021!

What is your reading resolution for 2021?
(Tell us in the replies)

About The Book

About The Book:

Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library’s beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library’s basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.

When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library’s transformation into a “futuristic technological center,” is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police’s prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that’s not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.

But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she’d have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Trudell–with the help of a group of dedicated readers–decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

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No one in the moderately sized rural southern town of Cypress would ever suspect their stalwart assistant librarian of breaking into the library where she worked. Why would they? A bronze plaque hangs on my kitchen wall. It was personally presented to me by Mayor Goodvale. He declared me an asset to the town. I’d received the award because I always performed my job with the highest level of pride and professionalism. For the past thirteen years I put the town and library first, often to the detriment of my personal life.

An even bigger honor occurred a few years ago when Mrs. Lida Farnsworth, the town’s head librarian, whispered (she always whispered) while we busily returned books to their shelves: “Trudell Becket, I couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong about my first impression of you. I would have hired any other candidate for the position. But, alas, the only other person who’d applied was that drunkard Cooper Berry. I honestly didn’t think you had it in you, honey. But, bless your heart, you’ve become the model of a perfect librarian.”

And she was right. I was perfect. Until . . .

Well, let’s just say someone needed to do this.

As a general rule, librarians don’t speak in loud voices. Librarians don’t exceed the speed limit when driving to work. And librarians certainly don’t dress head-to-toe in black ninja-wear while attempting to pick the library’s backdoor lock.

Yet, librarians can always be counted on to get things done.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I muttered to a lanky brown cat with black tiger stripes. It had emerged from the darkened back alleyway to stand next to library’s cool pearly-pink granite wall and watch me. “Someone needs to protect those books before they all end up destroyed. They’re sending them to the landfill.” The small metal flashlight clenched between my teeth caused the words to come out garbled. Both of my hands were busy working the lock.

A textbook for locksmiths that I’d borrowed from the library’s reference section sat open to the page featuring a diagram of a lock. Since I didn’t own a lockpick kit—why would I?—I’d improvised with a few sturdy paperclips bent to resemble the tools depicted on the book’s previous page. Every little sound, every scrape and rumble in Cypress’s quaint downtown, boomed in my ears. I jumped at the soft cough of a car engine. And with that cat watching me, I felt an itchy need to scurry into the nearest mousehole to hide.

But I couldn’t run. I had to finish what I’d set my mind to finishing.

After what felt like a million thundering heartbeats while I fumbled with the paperclips, the lock clicked. The door opened. I rose on shaky legs, gathering up the reference book and the stack of flattened moving boxes I’d brought with me. My gaze darted to the darkest corners of the alleyway before I slipped inside.

Just as the door started to close, the cat that had been watching with such a judgmental glare shimmied between my legs and into the library before the heavy metal back door clanked closed.

“Hey!” I called in a harsh whisper because shouting in a library simply wasn’t done. Whispering seemed even more important in the middle of the night as I sneaked inside on my clandestine mission.

The brown cat ignored me. With a yeow loud enough to have me instinctively hissing, “Shhhh!” the little beast darted upstairs and disappeared into the shadows of the stacks.

“Tru, you’re in for it now,” I muttered before dropping the stack of boxes. I sprinted after that darn cat.

Mrs. Farnsworth would have a heart attack if she discovered a flea-bitten kitty wandering among her books in the morning. I needed to get him out. The head librarian was already on edge with having to deal with the changes coming to the library. If I didn’t know the tough older woman better, I would have suspected she was busy plotting a murder.

My Thoughts

Tru is not following the rules and, well, … sometimes a librarian has to do what a librarian has to do. When the town library upgrades to digital and removes every print book, Tru and a band of friends have taken it upon themselves to save as many as they can by secreting the books bound for the landfill into a secret basement room. When the man who ordered the books gone is found murdered, Tru, one of the more vocal against this idea, is on the shortlist of suspects.

From the start of the book, which began with a short history of the printed book (very informative I must say) until the last page, this book was pure reading enjoyment. The big question is…” Why did the library have to ditch the books in order to go digital?” I thought about my city library with its maker lab, 3D printers, digital music stations, and hacker labs and yet, on the day before the pandemic shutdown, they checked out a record 206,000 books. My heart bled for Tru and her flummoxed patrons. The next question that nagged at me was of course, “whodunnit?” I thought I knew, just because that person was very unlikeable I suppose, but then it could be this or that other person for really good reasons, but I really liked most of those people. I was right, but for all the wrong reasons, which is just fine with me. it was fun getting there.

More important than a good mystery at the beginning of a new series are the characters. The author doesn’t skimp here at all. From Tru’s core circle of friends and acquaintances to her regular patrons, each adds a bit of story goodness. Then there are the secondary characters, the ones you just know you are going to love to hate in the coming books. Then there is Dewey. I knew from his first page he was going to be wonderful.

So why should you read this book? Because it is enormously entertaining with characters that you will become attached to, with a spunky protagonist that represents the book lover in all of us.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

About The Author:

About The Author:

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

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