Friday, February 20, 2015

Arsenic and old books by Miranda James

Arsenic and old books is the sixth book in the Cat in the stack mysteries so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first five books in the series.  While you can read this series as standalone books it is best enjoyed read in series order so if you have not read the first books - Murder past dueClassified as murderFile M for murderOut of circulationThe silence of the library - then you may want to read them first before reading anymore of this review.

Life is starting to settle down for Charlie and Diesel, although the house is starting to feel a little empty now that Laura has moved out and started her new life with her husband.  The only real excitement in town is the upcoming state senate elections with the son of the mayor campaigning to enter office - following in the family tradition.  Seemingly out of the blue the mayor drops in to see Charlie, bearing the gift of four journals from her husbands ancestor.  The journals are pure gold for any researcher from the period, a personal account of a woman from a well established family with a long and distinguished history who survived the Civil War even though it swept through Athena.  It is an amazing gift for the archive - but it comes with a rather surprising cost.

The rare journals attract attention almost immediately, and Charlie is a little surprised by all the attention and the determination of people to have access to the journals.  Sticking to his guns about making sure the journals are treated properly, Charlie is horrified when the rare items are stolen from his office.  To add insult to injury one of the parties interested in the journals turns up dead, and Charlie finds himself caught up in yet another murder mystery!  With Charlie on the case they may finally be able to get to the bottom of the mystery, because there is more than one cunning plot afoot.

I have made no secret of the fact that I adore the Cat in the stack mysteries - or as they are known in my house "the Charlie and Diesel books".  James has a comfortable and easy writing style that takes no effort to read, and the characters are so engaging that it is difficult not to fall in love with them.  Arsenic and old books continues the strong legacy of the rest of the series, blending together a murder mystery and (somewhat) sweeping family drama as we experience life with adult children returning to the empty nest and a gripping murder mystery.  Without giving away too much of the plot, there are some suitably shady characters, some dodgy dealings, and some rather charming family and friend interactions to quench your thirst for murder, mayhem, and comfort.  

I was wondering if James might have been running short of ideas for the series, because of the introduction of the Southern ladies mysteries series, but that is clearly not the case.  It did feel like Arsenic and old books may have been a touch shorter than some of the other books in the series, but that could be because this was the first hardcover I had read in the series and sometimes paperbacks have less on the page to keep the words a decent size.  This is a well received part of the series, and hopefully we get to see many more adventures with Charlie and Diesel.

One of the best things about Arsenic and old books is that there is a bonus short story in the back that tells the story of how Charlie and Diesel first met!  Very satisfying and a wonderful addition to the story that is Charlie and Diesel.  Now all I have to do is wait for the next book in the series.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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