Review of Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?

In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (September 10, 2019)
  • Publication Date: September 10, 2019
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Available on Amazon

review of buried in the stacks

Let’s start with what I loved about this story. 

The setting is, of course, absolutely delightful. How could a bookworm not appreciate a cozy mystery set in a library?! I found it interesting to read about the day to day management of the space and I really enjoyed seeing how the library was made to be a focal point of the community. Making it a key part of the community also makes it easier to develop the mystery! 

My biggest issue with the story, as a self-confessed “character-lover”, is that by halfway through I was irritated by Carrie’s judgemental ways.  She seems to view the world in black and white only and even the slightest deviation from her ideas of right are massive transgressions. She even criticizes the resident ghost who, during life, put salt in a co-worker’s tea after they’d had an altercation. But it’s perfectly okay for Carrie to practically badger the same ghost into spying on people and reporting any and all secrets she may have. It’s also okay for Carrie to consider withholding info from the police because she believes she’s better at solving the mystery. The one time she bothers to question her judgemental nature, she and her best friend wave it away as her just having high expectations. 

I like my cozy heroines a little flawed, even if mostly good. Characters who act above the rest aren’t so endearing.

The mysteries of who killed Dorothy and who killed ghostly Evelyn years before her were mixed in with questions about the truth behind Haven/ Harbor House (the name got interchanged within the narrative). I liked this multiple angle mystery as it provided the reader with multiple suspects and motives. Several of the suspects seemed mean enough to have done it and a couple others were sweet enough to have me hoping for their innocence. 

The big reveal, however, was a bit anticlimactic. The mystery was presented with multiple layers and I was enjoying working my way through the clues. I do wish the main character had been more on track for figuring out the culprit given her dogged determination to solve the crime herself and be an asset to the police. 

Overall, the setting and premise of the story are good but I do wish I could have liked the main character more and that the mystery’s culmination was more complex. 

I give Buried in the Stacks 3/5 espresso shots.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

15 thoughts on “Review of Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook

Add yours

  1. I have read them all in this series and do enjoy them. I never really thought about Carrie’s judgemental attitude, but you are right there. I hope you give it another try before giving up on it. It is a fun series.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I saw this one over on Carla’s blog. I do love the setting and it sounds really good. Seems like it would be a perfect fall read too. Sorry you didn’t end up loving it though. Great review, Nina. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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