Dead in the Stacks — Some Selections

Since you can read the first part at Amazon, here are some other selections. But I’m not giving away anything important! Here is a bit from Chapter 4:

Lauren said, “I have been puzzling over it all and I don’t know what to think. The thing that puzzles me the most, I guess, is why Mark was here in the library. I’m assuming he had a heart attack, but really I don’t know that. I’m thinking that you may have some ideas that haven’t occurred to me.”

Grace nodded. “Frankly, I think he could have been murdered.”

Lauren felt her body tense up. “Why?”

“You know he was widely disliked…”

“Well, yeah.”

“I just think that so many people wanted him out of their lives, and maybe someone wanted him gone badly enough to take action.”

“Do you think it being the night of the banquet means it was library-related?” Lauren asked.

“Not necessarily,” Grace said. “The library connection could be a red herring that the killer used to distract attention. Suppose it was someone Mark had ripped off recently in real estate. It could have been an out-of-towner who invested in that stupid shopping mall idea of his. It could have been someone who’s been getting madder and madder for a long time. But here’s one idea that ties it back into the library…

Lauren and her boyfriend Justin go camping with her little dog Mickey over Memorial Day Weekend, in Chapter 5.

There hadn’t been anyone like Justin in her romantic history. He combined a thoughtful intelligence with being good looking and emotionally alive. Yep, he was a keeper.

He had worn his Forest Service uniform this morning, in case he did meet up with people he needed to be official with, and it showed off his lean, muscular body when he moved. She watched him setting things up, feeling more relaxed than she had since… had it only been two mornings ago? It felt like a month since Mark’s body had been lying in the library stacks.

After breakfast, Justin looked a little apologetic. “Do you mind if I check out where the pot growers were? It’s just up the creek trail,about a quarter of a mile from here.”

“I knew that was coming, honey. I think I will go sit by the creek and relax.”

The sun was shining on the water, making ever-changing patterns as the creek flowed over rocks and into a pool that was deep enough they could have a dip later. The aspens were a bright green, their leaves dancing in a slight breeze that Lauren couldn’t feel at ground level. The water, the trees, the little blue flowers, and the blue sky all filled her vision with beauty.

She and Mickey wandered down the creekside trail. She found a spot where she could sit on a sun-baked rock, lean back on another rock behind it, and gaze at the little rapids. Mickey slurped a drink from the creek, curled up on the rock beside her, and dozed.

Nature was real. She remembered how she had always felt more alive as a child when her family went camping. They car-camped,with her parents sleeping in the back of the station wagon and the kids in a big tent right by them. They stayed in a place enough days to explore it thoroughly, and they went back again and again to their favorite spots. She knew now that her parents had been economizing, but then it simply seemed like the best way to go camping.

And here is a selection from Chapter 9. The bit where the young man asks about cyanide in the library was an experience I actually had as a reference librarian.

Virginia had been saying around town that Mark could have been killed with cyanide. She had probably read Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, Sparkling Cyanide, in which someone dies at a banquet from cyanide poisoning and then they have another banquet a year later and someone else dies the same way. The library had had the book when Lauren first arrived, but like a lot of the old novels, it had been in bad shape and marked with chocolate stains here and there. People do eat a lot of chocolate when they read novels, Lauren thought. She had discarded the book, but she might see what other mysteries they had of Christie’s, as cyanide had been used in several other stories of hers as well.

Lauren didn’t know much about it. People who were poisoned by it could turn blue, but she didn’t know how noticeable a color it was.Their breath could smell like almonds, she’d read somewhere, but again she didn’t know any details. None of us are going to smell like roses, she thought.

When she was getting her Master’s degree in Denver and working in a public library part time, a young man had once asked her if they had any books on cyanide. It had been a busy Saturday and lunch hour for the other librarian working the reference desk with her. Several other people were standing there, waiting for her help, so she had just said, “Look in the 500s, over there, in the science section.” To her relief, he hadn’t come back, and Lauren hadn’t given cyanide another thought until now.

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