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Death Overdue    by Mary Lou Kirwin & John Skewes order for
Death Overdue
by Mary Lou Kirwin
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

When I read Mary Lou Kirwin's debut mystery, Killer Librarian, I gave it a lukewarm review. I liked the novel's protagonist, a Midwestern librarian who stumbles into romance and a crime investigation while on vacation in London. But I was very critical of the lackadaisical manner in which the new author developed the plot. The resolution of the mystery was almost an afterthought and not very satisfying.

This sequel, Death Overdue, happily corrects the shortcomings that bothered me about the first novel and further develops the romantic relationship between Karen Nash and her English boyfriend, Caldwell Perkins.

Wondering if she wants to take their relationship to the next level and make an even bigger commitment to Caldwell, Karen has returned to London where she will stay with her boyfriend in the bed and breakfast he owns and assist him in launching a new business as a book store owner. If all goes well, perhaps a marriage will follow.

Of course, all doesn't go well. Caldwell's former girlfriend unexpectedly shows up after a seven year absence and demands her share of the B & B the two established together.

Since she initially told Caldwell the place was his when she cleaned out their joint bank account and then mysteriously disappeared, Caldwell has no intention of agreeing to her financial demands. Naturally, Karen isn't overly thrilled to see this former girlfriend back in the picture either.

Before the situation can be resolved or even become more complicated for that matter, Sally, Caldwell's old flame and business partner, ends up dead. She is crushed when a large floor to ceiling bookcase topples over on her late at night when she is rummaging around Caldwell's bookroom.

I can't recall a bookcase ever serving as a murder weapon, but this is a clever twist for this series that features a librarian and her bibliophile companion.

When it becomes apparent that someone detached the bookcase, which was fastened to the wall to prevent such an accident, the police begin a murder investigation. The other guests staying in the B & B and the small staff are all suspects, naturally.

It is at this point that Kirwin exerts a little more care with this second novel as she uses some clever misdirection to cast suspicion on some of these individuals.

Needless to say, I won't finger the culprit but I think the reader will be surprised by the outcome. Also, the final pages set up the next story in the series as it appears the two book lovers are moving forward with their business and personal relationship.

Having corrected the shortcomings of her first suspense yarn, Mary Lou Kirwin now has this fledging series on the right track. If she takes as much care with the plot of the next novel, these entertaining characters should be with us for a while.

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