As a librarian by nature as well as profession, I love books about libraries and librarians. If the setting happens to be unique, so much the better.
By Book or By Crook fits all the above criteria. The protagonist, Lucy Richardson, has left her job as an academic librarian at Harvard University to escape from the weight of her family's disappointment when she refused a marriage proposal from the man she'd been expected to marry almost since she was born. Lucy runs to Bodie Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to her Aunt Ellen and Uncle Amos, with whom she'd spent summers when she was growing up.
Lucy lands a job and a small apartment at the Bodie Island Library, which happens to be situated in a lighthouse. She meets the library board and various other local VIPs at a viewing party planned by Bertie James, the chief librarian, who has scored the loan of some valuable Jane Austen first editions.
Lucy stumbles into an incident almost immediately when she meets the Mrs. Uppiton, the estranged -- and very tipsy -- wife of the library board chairman. The evening spirals into disaster when Mr. Uppiton is discovered lying on the floor in a closed area of the library, in a puddle of blood.
But when Bertie is arrested for murder, Lucy has no choice but to prove the innocence of her mentor.
I would like to say that the eccentricities of small-town residents are exaggerated in this story, but I know from experience that they are not. And despite not being somewhat familiar with the area, Lucy is still a city girl with little knowledge of the aforementioned quirks.
It will be interesting to watch the development of Lucy's relationships, both professional and personal in her new environment.
The publisher has generously offered a copy of By Book or by Crook to one of my readers. Please comment below before midnight on February 16, including a VALID EMAIL ADDRESS. Entries from the US only, please.
FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of the book.