Review: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

Title: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay
Library Lovers Mystery Series Book Eight
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


In the latest Library Lover’s Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Better Late Than Never, the library’s big fund-raiser leaves director Lindsey Norris booked for trouble . . . 

Lindsey Norris and her staff are gearing up for the Briar Creek Library’s annual Dinner in the Stacks fund-raiser. The night of dinner and dancing is not only a booklover’s dream—it’s the library’s biggest moneymaker of the year. But instead of raising funds, the new library board president is busy raising a stink and making the staff miserable.

Although Olive Boyle acts like a storybook villain, Lindsey is determined to work with her and make the event a success. But when Olive publicly threatens the library’s newest hire, Paula, Lindsey cracks like an old book spine and throws Olive out of the library.

The night of the fund-raiser, Lindsey dreads another altercation with Olive—but instead finds Paula crouched over Olive’s dead body. Paula may have secrets, but Lindsey and the rest of the crafternooners know she’s not the one who took Olive out of circulation. As the plot thickens, Lindsey must catch the real killer before the book closes on Paula’s future . . .


Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay is a well-plotted and entertaining cozy mystery. This eighth installment in the Library Lovers Mystery series easily stands on its own.

Briar Creek Librarian Lindsey Norris and the rest of her staff including Paula Turner are about to host their annual fundraiser when newly elected library board president Olive Boyle begins issuing a plethora of unreasonable commands. She is planning on instituting a dress code, demands numerous staff changes and announces her decision to fire Lindsey.  Needless to say, Lindsey is upset by the disagreeable woman’s high-handed decrees but with the fundraiser to set up, she tries to ignore the unpleasant woman. The night of the gala, Lindsey, her staff and the other attendees are stunned when Olive takes to the stage and proceeds to defame the library staff. At the end of the night, Olive is murdered and it appears Paula might be her killer. Lindsey is certain Paula is innocent and despite her earlier promise not to become involved in any more murder cases, Lindsey and her friend Robbie Vine begin their investigation in an effort to clear Paula’s name.

Lindsey really tries to keep her word to her boyfriend, Sully, not to endanger herself by investigatng Olive’s murder. However, when police chief Emma Plewicki has no choice but to consider Paula a suspect, Lindsey cannot sit on the sidelines waiting to see whether  or not her co-worker will be arrested. Unfortunately, since Olive was a particularly mean and vindictive woman, the list of suspects is vast.  With Robbie at her side, they begin their quest for Olive’s killer with her posse of mean girl friends, Amy, LeAnn and Kim. When it appears the trio have rock solid alibis, Lindsey and Robbie then turn their sights to Olive’s ex-husband Kyle and his current wife, Molly. Once again they hit a dead end, so they then question Olive’s sister, Margaret, where they discover the reason for the sisters’ estrangement. Quickly clearing Margaret, Robbie and Lindsey find themselves at somewhat of dead end. However, in a sudden turn of events, they are certain they know murderer’s identity, but are they on the right track?

With an endearing lead protagonist, a cast of quirky yet likable characters and an intriguing murder to solve, Death in the Stacks is a fast-paced mystery. The plot is interesting  and easy to follow despite a bit of confusion due to the sheer number of characters introduced early in the story. The mystery element is well executed and  Jenn McKinlay  does an outstanding job keeping the murderer’s identity and motive for the crime under wraps until the novel’s exciting conclusion. This rather light-hearted addition to the Library Lovers Mystery series is sure to appeal to fans of cozy mysteries.

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