Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun mystery with a girl series twist
Cons: Not as much of the supporting cast
The Bottom Line:
Lead to modern mystery
For nostalgic fun
Teen Sleuth Leads to Murder
If you read my reviews regularly, you’ll notice that I love the Trixie Belden series. While my love for that series has lasted well into adulthood, as a kid, I devoured the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown as well. All of that made me really look forward to reading The Silence of the Library, the fifth Cat in the Stacks mystery. Why? Because a fictional teen sleuth series plays a huge part in the book.
As a child, Charlie Harris was introduced to Veronica Thane one day by his aunt. As a result, he has long loved this lesser known series from the golden days of the teen detective series books. The Athena Public Library is setting up a display about the various teen sleuths for National Library Week, and Charlie is lending his expertise to help Veronica get the spotlight.
No one has heard anything from the author, Electra Barnes Cartwright, in years, so Charlie is a bit surprised to learn that she is not only still alive but living not that far from Athena. She is almost 100 years old, but she has agreed to make an appearance during the week to meet her fans.
But the news of this rare appearance brings out the crazies among her fans – collectors who will do anything for a rare copy of a book or an autograph. Charlie is beginning to think that this author appearance might be a bad idea when someone dies. Can he figure out what happened?
Over the course of this book, we are treated to the first few chapters of the very first Veronica Thane mystery. I must say that “Miranda” James (really a pen name for Dean James), has perfectly captured the flavor and style of the old series. It’s a little over the top even for the genre, but it is a hoot. There are many references to other, actual, teen series books as well, mainly Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys but the others get mentioned as well, so mystery readers who grew up reading the genre will be delighted.
Another thing I loved about this book was how the modern day story incorporated elements from the teen sleuth genre into the plot. Oh, it is a murder mystery, but the plot brings in enough other elements, sometimes as red herrings and sometimes as real clues, that it provides a nice change of pace for a cozy. Of course, things do lead up to a logical climax, which isn’t a surprise for this series.
Unfortunately, we don’t see quite as much of the series regulars as I would have liked. Still, that’s a minor complaint since we get some wonderful new characters here. They keep Charlie confused and us turning pages until the end.
Diesel, Charlie’s Maine Coon cat, is as much a fixture as ever, of course. He’s a real charmer and continues to be a fantastic scene stealer.
You don’t have to have fond memories of series books from your childhood to enjoy The Silence of the Library. Any fan of cozies mysteries will enjoy it. But hours spent in the company of Nancy or Trixie or any of the others will give this book an added boost that will leave you smiling.
And if you haven’t met Charlie and Diesel yet, here are the rest of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries in order.