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Murder at the 42nd Street Library


Murder at the 42nd Street Library

There is a general perception that danger lurks on the streets of New York City. Be careful where you wander. But inside the 42nd Street Library? Most people would consider that a place of pleasant contemplation. Now murder has come to the halls of the library. A man carrying a briefcase walks into the secure office of the director of Special Collections. Before he can say a word, a bullet tears through his neck, killing him. If the director saw anything in those few short seconds, he is too stunned to make sense of it.

Raymond Ambler, curator of the Special Collections crime fiction, hears about the death shortly after it occurs and is reluctantly drawn into the investigation. He has an innate curiosity and an in-born logic that compels him to search for and follow clues to their natural solutions. Fortunately, NYPD detective Mike Cosgrove is on the case and, since he likes Ambler, gives the librarian leeway he would not otherwise afford an ordinary citizen.

"MURDER AT THE 42nd STREET LIBRARY is an entertaining read, a pleasant way to pass a few hours, and a great introduction to a fresh new sleuth."

The 42nd Street Library is not traditional in the way one would think of a library. It is a research facility rather than one where members come to check out books. Scholars, authors and grad students would be typical denizens. And it attracts benefactors. Recently, a collection of papers from Nelson Yates, a famous author and an acquaintance of Raymond Ambler, has been donated to the library. Much controversy surrounds it, though, and it seems to be causing a lot of headaches for the director. So then, when another murder occurs, it throws everyone into a panic. The connection between the victims appears to indicate a single killer, but why? The motive is anything but clear. A closer look at the Yates papers might be warranted. Secrets could be hidden in those pages that will help solve the puzzle. Meanwhile, Detective Cosgrove has his hands full, leaving Ambler to snoop around the library quietly for answers.

Among Ambler’s many friends at 42nd Street is Adele, who would really like to be more than friends, if you asked her. Spunky and smart, she provides the perfect partner for Ambler to bounce ideas off of while also pointing out the weaknesses in his theories. With some raw emotional wounds to recover from (her mother just died), Adele becomes an easy target for a street lad named Johnny. Her sympathies get her into deep peril, for Johnny has some shady connections of his own, so Ambler must work extra hard to keep her safe. When it turns out that Johnny’s troubled mother, Emily, keeps falling into despair and can’t seem to stay sober despite fierce love for her child, Adele and Ambler find themselves even more distracted by Johnny’s difficulties. With so much danger on the streets and the police stretched so thin, it is lucky that neighborhood bartender McNulty can keep an eye on his friends, too.

Like many murders, these have no shortage of suspects. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to keep track. Aside from the abundance of characters, though, MURDER AT THE 42nd STREET LIBRARY is an entertaining read, a pleasant way to pass a few hours, and a great introduction to a fresh new sleuth. I’m simply hopeful that Ambler’s second case will be a little less complicated.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on April 29, 2016

Murder at the 42nd Street Library
by Con Lehane

  • Publication Date: April 26, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250009960
  • ISBN-13: 9781250009968