Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library’s crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.
In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden–and profoundly disturbing–relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library’s crime fiction collection, that writer’s missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler’s colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.
Worldbuilding: I loved the setting of the NY Public Library, the people involved in library life, so to speak, their dynamics. It was an interesting world, full of subtle tension.
Characters: Ambler was interesting as a character. He had a troubled past, bright ideas, good gut feelings, and was a lover of crime fiction. I mean, what’s not to love about the guy? He wasn’t terribly funny, but he had few occasions for it anyway. I really liked Cosgrove too, the actual detective investigating the murders, and they had a really fun dynamic. Adele could have been interesting, but then she went into psycho-mom-mode or something toward the end there and I lost interest in her, tbh. I mean she was sweet in her obsession, I guess, but it just didn’t sit right with me.
Plot: The story was very interesting and unpredictable up to a point. Toward the end there, when more things got revealed, it was still interesting but a bit less convincing, in a way. And the end John/Johnny thing felt like pandering to Adele’s obsession, and a bit too much, imo. But overall, it was a fun, fast-paced story, and it was gripping enough until the very end.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, multiple POV. I didn’t enjoy that, I find I don’t like multiple at all lately, it just takes out the excitement and character connection for me.
Curb Appeal: Awesome cover, hooking blurb – mystery craving impulsive buy.
I love amateur detective stories, and this one was pretty entertaining. I felt it had a lot of potential in the beginning, but as things progressed it got a bit less gripping for me. But still interesting, in a somewhat old-school kind of way maybe. I do recommend Murder at the 42nd Street Library to lovers of NY library-world people with dark pasts (cause boy, were there shocking and revolting stories in the pasts of people involved in these murders!), and maybe fans of more old-school mysteries, where the focus is not just one character and things are puzzling(ish) right until the end.
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