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I am super excited to share my thoughts about The Broken Spine today!
The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery)
by Dorothy St. James
About The Broken Spine
The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – South Carolina
Publisher: Berkley (January 19, 2021)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B086SCQ639
The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!
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.
Like me, Trudell Becket loves books. Being a librarian brings her so much joy. But the Cypress city manager is on a mission to bring tech companies to town so he has decided the way to do that is to make everything computerized and digital. His first major project is to make the library completely digital and send all the print books to the landfill. Trudell just can’t accept that so she comes up with a plan to rescue as many books as she can. She pitches her idea to her friends and they agree to help her. While executing her plan she hears a loud crash. Rushing to the noise she finds the city manager crushed beneath a media shelf that was filled with DVDs. A shelf that had been tampered with. Because she is the one that found him Trudell becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Now with a little more help from her friends, she decides to find the real culprit before she is booked for the crime.
Stop, full stop! A library with no physical books! Yes, technology is great but libraries hold our history. They are a gathering place. A place where dreams are born and goals are set. There is nothing like that new book smell, except maybe that old book smell. The joy that is felt as you open a book and set off on a new adventure. Yes, stories can be read or listened to on devices and loved but there of many types of books that just need to be in print format. All formats can coexist together, there is no need to just trash books especially first editions of some classics. Okay, I will get off my soapbox and tell you more about this book but I must say the premise of the story just broke my heart. That does not mean I did not enjoy the book. If the job of a book is to evoke emotions this story truly does that.
I found Trudell to be a very interesting protagonist, a girl after my own heart. She has a diverse group of friends and co-workers, one of who I identified with completely. One has me on the fence. I feel we have just scratched the surface on these key characters. I want to get to know them all better. Dewey, the cat, was a favorite of mine. I found him to be quite captivating.
The mystery had a nice pace with twists and turns. I did hone in on someone very early in the story, I just needed to suss out all the reasons why. Trudell worked her way through all the suspects and did come around eventually to my way of thinking as all the clues finally fell into place for her. It was fun to see her process everything. I think the theme of the story, a bookless library, grabbed all of my attention at first and I was thrilled that the city manager was the victim. Had I been a character in the story I may have topped the suspect list myself. The motive ended up being a bit of a surprise but my thinking was definitely on the right track.
The Broken Spine is a very pleasing start to the Beloved Bookroom Series. I am curious to see where the author takes these characters and how they will develop. I am still trying to wrap my head around the bookless library idea. Ms. St. James has sure piqued my interest. A Perfect Bind will be released on September 7, 2021.
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About Dorothy St. James
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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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”