Monday, September 24, 2012

Murder at the Library of Congress: Review

Murder at the Library of Congress is the sixteenth novel in Margaret Truman's Capital Crimes series--but the first one I've read.  I grabbed it up at the Friends of the Library Bookstore primarily because it was set at the Library of Congress.  Mysteries set in libraries represent another sub-genre that I like to read.   This one has Annabel Reed-Smith, former lawyer and current art gallery owner, doing research at the Library of Congress for an article about Christopher Columbus.  Specifically, she is trying to determine if rumors of a diary written by Bartolome de Las Casas, one of Columbus's companions, are based in fact or if it is all just a pipe dream.  

Also at the library is Michele Paul--the world's leading scholar on all things Las Casas.  He has been doing research on the supposedly lost diary for years.  Annabel wants to consult him, but the man is insufferably rude and unhelpful.  He also has a knack for making nearly everyone he meets hate him.  So, it's not much of a surprise when he winds up dead--whacked with the proverbial blunt instrument.  Is his death related to the diary?  And what does a missing painting by a second-rate artist have to do with it--if anything?   Annabel and an ambitious television newswoman dig up clues and answers...and it all comes down to some very interesting files on computer disks discovered in one of the Library's forgotten collections.

This is a fairly decent mystery.  I liked Annabel and her husband, as well as most of the other main characters.  I saw the solution coming a long way ahead....although not the complete details.  But I can't say that this book is so outstanding that I'll be tracking down the others in the series.  If they come along, then I'll read them, but I'm in no hurry.  Three stars for a decent outing.

Every library is more exciting than it looks. Ask any real reader. [Robert Baumann; p. 42]

Pursuing scholarly research was not destined to make one rich; the psychic benefits were expected to compensate. [p. 49]

I'd say we should clamp a tight lid on this, but that's like asking a politician to keep a secret. [Dr. Cale Broadhurst, the Librarian of Congress; p. 61]

Life in a library is supposed to be quiet, reflective, helpful--not bloody or kinky. [Mackenzie Smith; p. 269]


Man of la Book said...

Great review.

Was this a standalone book or did you feel that you missed something no reading the previous books?

Bev Hankins said...

The book worked just fine as a standalone...I didn't feel like I missed any backstory by starting in mid-stream. It just wasn't a "wow" kind of book. Perfectly decent...but unlike Sayers's Wimsey books or Greenwood's Phryne Fisher, I don't feel like I have to run out and read the whole series.

Nan said...

I've meant to read her for years, since I'm quite fond of her parents. :<) But a while back I heard somewhere that she didn't write them. Or maybe it was just the later ones? Thanks for the push to pick one up at the library. I like your description 'perfectly decent.'

Peggy Ann said...

I've read several of hers and they are stand alone. I have not read this one though. I don't care for the DC setting but the library would be nice!

Unknown said...

It's pity the book wasn't more rewarding. I though the premise sounded very interesting, sort of The DaVinci Code meets National Treasure. I have half a mind to read it to see what I should avoid asa a writer. :)

Susanne said...

Oh good review - I have one of Margaret's mysteries on my shelf and have yet to get to it. Sometimes I like my mysteries very complicated and sometimes not - a cozy read is not necessarily a bad thing.