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.
Lehane's enjoyable first in a new series introduces crime fiction librarian Raymond "Ray" Ambler (possibly a nod to authors Raymond Chandler and Eric Ambler). When a researcher is shot dead at the New York Public Library and a potshot is taken at special collections head Harry Larkin, Ambler starts to ask questions. He soon learns of a rivalry between the murdered man and Maximilian Wagner, the would-be biographer of Nelson Yates, a mystery author who has deposited his papers at the library and suffers from problems related to drink and age. Ambler uncovers disquieting connections among the researcher, Wagner, Larkin, Yates, estranged members of Yates's family, and Wagner's lascivious wife. The bodies begin to pile up as Ambler and two librarian colleagues dig deeper, evoking poignant parallels in the lives of Ambler and his homicide detective friend, Mike Cosgrove. Fans of Lehane's cranky bartender Brian McNulty, the hero of his earlier series (Death at the Old Hotel, etc.), will welcome his appearance in a supporting role.
Just did not enjoy!
Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane is a new mystery novel. Raymond Ambler is the curator of the crime fiction collection in the 42nd Street Library in New York that is devoted to research. Ray arrives at work one day to find out that James Donnelly was shot while visiting Harry Larkin, supervisor at the library. Why did someone kill James and shoot at Harry? Ray cannot help but look into the matter. Ray has read so many crime novels, that he would like to try his hand at solving real crimes. James was asking Harry about the Nelson Yates collection the library recently acquired. The library was able to purchase the collection thanks to an anonymous donor. There is something fishy about this collection. Is it somehow connected to the murder? Ray works with Mike Cosgrove, NYPD Homicide Detective to solve the crime.
I had a difficult time reading Murder at the 42nd Street Library. I was originally not going to request the book, but then someone said it was such a wonderful novel. I thought that maybe I was wrong with my initial impression, and I requested it. I should have listened to my inner voice. The novel is oddly (awkwardly) written. It is an extremely convoluted novel. There is really too much going on and the writer seemed to delight in using big words when they were not needed. Big words can be fun (do not judge), but they should not be used to just to show off (which is what it felt like in this book). You are never quite sure who is talking sometimes and the way the book is written just leads to confusion. I have to admit that after a while I just started speed reading towards the end. Some sections you have to read, and then reread trying to figure out (you should only have to do that with math and science textbooks). I loved the idea of a mystery set at a big research library, but the execution was severely lacking. The novel needs a severe rewrite in order to be enjoyable (actually, just keep the premise and start over with everything else including the characters). The writer tried to make a very complex mystery, but did not succeed. A reader can easily figure out the who committed the crime. I give Murder at the 42nd Street Library 2 out of 5 stars (I have to admit that I am being generous).
I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review of the novel.