Arsenic and Old Books
(Cat in the Stacks Mystery)
6th in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Release Date: January 27, 2015
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Dan Craig
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell
Hardcover: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00KWG611O
In Athena, Mississippi, librarian Charlie Harris is known for his good nature—and for his Maine coon cat Diesel that he walks on a leash. Charlie returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but taking the plunge into a recent acquisition will have him in over his head…
Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, has donated a set of Civil War-era diaries to the archives of Athena College. The books were recently discovered among the personal effects of an ancestor of Mrs. Long’s husband. The mayor would like Charlie to preserve and to substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy—something that could benefit her son, Beck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate.
Beck’s biggest rival is Jasper Singletary. His Southern roots are as deep as Beck’s, and their families have been bitter enemies since the Civil War. Jasper claims the Long clan has a history of underhanded behavior at the expense of the Singletarys. He’d like to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family’s past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor at the college is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But their interest suddenly turns deadly…
Now Charlie is left with a catalog of questions. The diaries seem worth killing for, and one thing is certain: Charlie will need to be careful, because the more he reads, the closer he could be coming to his final chapter…
History and politics clash as 4 diaries dating back to the Civil War are donated to Athena College. As soon as word gets out of the acquisition people are banging down Charlie’s door to get their hands on them. Before Charlie can even get a good look at the books they are stolen from his office and a woman ends up dead. Just what is written in these diaries? Charlie feels obligated to find out but has to be careful because if the information has already gotten on person killed Charlie could be next!
These are some of my favorite characters. Charlie Harris is a true Southern gentleman with a huge heart. His constant companion is a Maine Coon cat named Diesel. This cat stole my heart when I met him in the first Cat in the Stacks Mystery, Murder Past Due. He reminded me so much of my own cat that I just fell in love.
The Civil War diaries were a fantastic element. I did figure out one part of the mystery a little early due to some knowledge I acquired several years ago but that truly didn’t take away from this story.
Charlie was so busy solving the mystery this time that with the exception of Diesel many of the supporting characters we have grown to love really just had cameo roles in this story. Most of the new characters introduced were suspects and spent a lot of time on the pages and everyone of them was playing an angle and were pretty selfish types. Good for the story but I missed seeing my old friends more.
James writing flows so easily making the pages fly and our visit to Athena ends much too soon. There is a fun short story included that tells us how Charlie came to be Diesel person and part of the family.
I love this series and look forward to each new installment. I can’t wait to escape to Athena, Mississippi next year!
Find out more about Miranda James and her books on her webpage here.
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