After a winter when she solved the cold case of a high school friend found dead in The Barn, Deborah Strong needs a distraction. She joins a conference entitled “Libraries: Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?” that will be useful for her work as a librarian in the small town of Shelby. The setting at a picturesque college in New Hampshire should also be healing.
Deborah’s project for the week plunges her into a mystery that would delight most researchers. What are the connections between a Bible dubbed “The Wicked Bible,” a woman called “The Wickedest Woman in New York,” a book written by Abigail Brewster, and a letter penned to this nineteenth-century author? As she slowly unravels the connections, Deborah confronts an event from her own past and anticipates a future that could be as brilliant as New Hampshire’s September foliage.
The second in the Deborah Strong series cleverly connects to the research Deborah’s friend Susan Warner discovered about Abigail Brewster in Dean’s Death of the Keynote Speaker.
- I love that Deborah is a librarian. It leads her to interesting projects such as the one she takes up in this book.
- Dean has cleverly interwoven American history of the 1880s, with the Wicked Bible, wherein one of the Ten Commandments is ‘Thou Shalt Commit Adultery’. I learned more about it and Madame Restell.
- The descriptions of rural and academic milieus are vivid and clear.
- Although this book has references to The Barn and its characters, they are infrequent and unobtrusive. It can be read as a standalone.
- Plot points, such as that of the blind date and the James-Reich-Brewster story, were used as mere twists and were not resolved. Was that to entice people to read the Susan Warner series?
- The mystery element fell short because I could guess who the thief/killer was halfway through the book.
- The culprit is conveniently injured in a car accident, which is mentioned in passing!
To sum up, it is like The Barn in that it is a good book but it feels unfinished and leaves you discontented.
Note: I received a free copy from BookSirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.