Monday, May 6, 2019

Murder at the 42nd Street Library

Murder at the 42nd Street Library (2016) by Con Lehane 

[from the back cover]
This first book in an irresistible new series introduces librarian and reluctant sleuth Raymond Ambler, a doggedly curious fellow who uncovers murderous secrets hidden behind the majestic marble façade of New York City’s landmark 42nd Street Library.

Murder at the 42nd Street Library follows Ambler and his partners in crime-solving as they track down a killer, shining a light on the dark deeds and secret relationships that are hidden deep inside the famous flagship building at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

In their search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler and his crew uncover sinister, and profoundly disturbing, relationships among the scholars studying in the iconic library. Included among the players are a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library’s crime fiction collection; that writer’s long-missing daughter, a prominent New York society woman with a hidden past, and more than one of Ambler’s colleagues at the library. Shocking revelations lead inexorably to the traumatic events that follow―the reading room will never be the same.

[My take:]
Okay....Well. I can't say that this is "irresistible." In fact, I pushed myself to finish the thing simply because I wanted to find out how many deaths I could rack up for Rick's Medical Examiner Challenge. Otherwise, I probably would have ditched it as a "Did Not Finish." I was extremely disappointed in what seemed to me to be a great-sounding story. Celebrated mystery writer. A research library with a crime fiction collection. People with hidden pasts. Shocking revelations and traumatic events. A nosy crime fiction research librarian to play amateur detective. What's not to like? Well...the nosy crime fiction research librarian for one. All the coincidences that happen for another. The messy plot. The REALLY big coincidence at the end. The endless side stories that seem to be intended as red herrings that somehow tie together because coincidences. (Did I mention there were all these coincidences?) An attempt by the author to combine all sorts of crime genres into one. We start out with what seems to be a cozy atmosphere and take a detour through an attempt at sleazy (near-porn) pulp. Then we wander around with a police procedural for a bit and throw in a bit of romantic mystery for good measure. 

To say this was a disappointing read would be an understatement. It might have helped if we had spent any sort of time at the library mentioned in the title. All the people who work at said library? Well, they don't actually seem to--work, that is. They spend a great deal of time talking to one another when they are there and then spend the rest of the time taking lunch breaks or wandering off to have drinks.  --maybe.

Deaths = five (gunshot) I think I caught them all--but seriously, I was skimming there for quite a bit and may have missed somebody's death. I don't think it would have helped the story any if I had noticed more deaths.....
April = pub date


Andrea Stoeckel said...

I read this book when it was on NetGalley, in part because my spouse used to work in the NYPL system. I wasn’t fact, it was one of the first “conversations “I had with an author where I wasn’t happy, and it may have been because I know something about the NYPL and asked some specific questions

Bev Hankins said... just wasn't a winner. I've not been to the library in New York, but it seemed like the one in the book could just be any random library.

Debbie Rodgers said...

That generic feel and -- as you said -- a terrible plot. I was also greatly disappointed.

Jean said...

How disappointing. I would love to read a great mystery set at the NYPL! This apparently is not it.

Bev Hankins said...

Jean: It definitely is not.

Carissa (Regency Woman) said...

Awww, what a shame. I was hoping it might be interesting, but oh well. I don't think I'll spend my time on it.