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Friday, 18 March 2022

‘The Librarian Always Rings twice’ by Marty Wingate

Published by Berkeley Prime Crime,
6 January 2022.
ISBN: 978-19848-0416-7 (HB)

Set in Bath in England, The Librarian Always Rings Twice is the third book in the First Edition Library Mystery Series.  Although initially having little knowledge of Golden Age fiction it now nearly a year on, and Haley Burke has settled into her position as curator of the late Lady Georgina Fowling’s collection of Golden Age of Mystery writers’ first editions at her library in Middlebank House. After a shaky start with Mrs Glynis Woolgar, who had been Lady Fowling’s personal assistant and is dedicated to keeping her memory and her library exactly the same as it had been in her lifetime, Haley has now convinced Mrs Woolgar to open the library to the public for half a day a week, so that other people may enjoy Lady Fowling’s love of the Golden Age books. The day as been set for Wednesdays

The only fly in the ointment is Charles Henry Dill, the unscrupulous nephew of the late Georgina Fowling. Despite having received a generous financial bequest from his aunt he is constantly trying to find ways of inheriting both the house and her money. On returning from a short holiday Haley discovers that in her absence somehow Charles has managed to get himself appointed by the board as Haley’s personal assistant.

On the first Wednesday, of the opening to the public Haley is able to advise Mrs Woolgar that eleven people had visited the library. She omitted to relate that a couple of them had asked if there was a café where they could have a cup of tea and when told, no, had decamped to Assembly Rooms. She also failed to report to Mrs Woolgar that when doing a final check that all the visitors had left the library, she discovered one man, a Mr John Aubrey, still lingering, and who it transpired clearly had a broad knowledge of Lady Georgina Fowling’s books, well he would, he said, Lady Georgina Fowling was my grandmother!

When she finally conveys this bombshell to Mrs Woolgar who is the expert on the life of Lady Georgina Fowling Mrs. Woolgar is aghast, and of course Charles Henry is furious.

As Haley considers how she can discover the truth of Mr Aubrey’s claims, an associate of Mr Aubrey’s turns up who says he will help.  Then he is murdered. Now Haley needs to discover not only the truth of Mr Aubrey claims, but also the identity of a killer.  The police have Charles Henry in their sights, but is there a deeper mystery?

This is a not to be missed read. I love the background to the story, and influence of the works of Daphne Du Maurier, one of my favourite authors. Also the many fascinating board members of the First Edition Library – the dear old friends of her ladyship, Mrs Audrey Moon and Mrs Silvia Moon, who had married brothers, Jane Arbuthnot, all in their eighties, and the youngster Maureen Frost in her early seventies, not to mention Bunter the cat.

There are many twists and turns before the truth emerges. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based author and speaker about gardens and travel. She is the author of The Garden Plot, first in the Potting Shed mystery series. There are now 7 books in the series. Marty’s garden articles appear in a variety of publications, including Fine Gardening, American Gardener, Country Gardens, and Gardening How-to. You can hear her on the podcast A Dry Rain, available free from iTunes. She leads garden tours to European and North American. The Bodies in the Library, published in October 2019 was the first in her new series. She has now written two further books in the series.

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