3.5 out of 5 stars
Welcome! Today I’m featuring a stop on the Great Lakes Virtual Book Tour for Death Overdue, the first in the new Haunted Library Mystery series by Allison Brook. It was a decent start to the series. After my review, you’ll find an interview with the author!
Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.
The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.
While it was definitely a decent start to a new series, this book was not my favorite. It was somewhat of a fun read, but somewhat predictable.
Let’s start with the positives. I love the premise of the series. Being a librarian myself, I’m always happy when my cozy series either has a librarian as the main character and/or takes place in a library.
I really enjoyed the characters. I love the main character, Carrie. She’s smart and determined, but for the most part she doesn’t deliberately go and put herself in danger. She’s well-rounded, complex and a joy to read about. I also like Dylan a lot and look forward to seeing more of him in coming books. The side characters like Uncle Bosco and Sally, the library director, were well done too. They were well-developed and complex characters as well.
The settings for this series were well done. There was a good mix of information and letting one’s imagination work.
The down part for me? I didn’t care about the mystery at all. I just didn’t care about Laura Foster or Al so I didn’t care who killed them. I was far more wrapped up and interested in the library politics and the subplots than I was in the mystery.
However, since I love the characters and premise so much, I am willing to give this series another shot and will definitely be reading the next one in the series. I’m hoping the mystery will be more interesting in that one! All in all, it’s a decent start to the series. Try it! Maybe you’ll be more into the mystery than I was.
First I’d like to say a huge thank you to Allison Brook for being willing to answer my questions.
- Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day? Do you enjoy your day job?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: I do not have a day job. Many years ago I taught high school Spanish.
- Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: I write almost every weekday. I like to write between 2 and 4 pages each day. I do not listen to music as I write.
- When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: When I begin a book, I know how the first third or quarter of the book will go and have a sketchy outline for the rest. My characters exert their personalities, and in that sense influence the actions they take and their relationships with one another. I usually follow an outline, though in my last book I discovered that the plot unfolded in the last two-thirds of the books as I was writing it.
- How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: My first book—a juvenile novel—was published many years ago when publishing was very different. I don’t remember how many rejections I’d received, but there were many before my agent at the time found a publisher. The paperback was sold to a book club before the hardcover came out, and I thought this was how all my book sales would be. That was not the case, however. I had many dry periods between books. I don’t know what kept me at it. I found myself writing book after book. I did change genres, from children’s books to mysteries. There were rejections at first, but fewer and fewer as many more books got published in print, ebook format and most recently audios.
- In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: Nowadays I write a novel then go over it, and go over it once again. I have had beta readers and they have been helpful in finding grammar errors or discrepancies such as calling a character by the wrong name or my weekday going from Tuesday to Thursday and skipping Wednesday. I rely on my editor to edit my book after I do the best editing job I possibly can. I don’t set my books aside before the editing process.
- A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: My villains aren’t. They don’t go around sporting a handlebar mustache and an evil laugh. After all, I write mysteries and part of the fun of reading mysteries for the reader is trying to discover the murderer before he or she is revealed at the end of the book. My villains are people who kill for a variety of reasons. They might have a sense of entitlement, they might act out of hatred or resentment, be driven by jealousy or revenge, murder for money or power. They are complex characters and manage to keep their evil sides hidden. I don’t have any real-life villains in mind as I write my books.
- Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: Once I start a story, my characters take on a life of their own. I believe we’re all influenced by people we know, but I’ve written many books and, if anything, my characters might have the aspect of one person and another aspect of someone else. I have never deliberately used a real person as a model for one of my characters.
- If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: Arthur Conan Doyle comes to mind, because he had to have had a brilliant mind to have come up with a sleuth like Sherlock Holmes. Also, his medical training and the way Holmes studies clues and evidence led to the creation of real-life forensics.
- What are some great books you’ve read recently? .
Ms. Brook’s Answer: I just finished reading a delightful mystery, The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine. Also Lisa See’s The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
- What books have influenced your life the most?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: No doubt the mysteries I read as a child—the Trixie Belden, Judy Bolton, and Nancy Drew series, since I love writing mysteries. A children’s book called The Golden Bird by Kathleen Field was given to me by my great-aunt when I was nine. It was already old when I received it. I treasure it still.
- If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: I would enjoy spending the day with Carrie, my sleuth in DEATH OVERDUE. Carrie is Head of Programs and Events in the Clover Ridge Library and gets to set up programs. I’d love to spend the day on a library trip she leads—to Manhattan or somewhere out East like the LongHouse Reserve—a delightful garden in East Hampton filled with wonderful sculptures.
- Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?
Ms. Brook’s Answer: I do read my reviews. I’m happy when reviewers and readers indicate they’ve enjoyed my books. Most of my reviews are very favorable, so I take the few negative ones in stride. Sometimes what readers criticize has little to do with the book. Some people use reviews to let off steam, to be vindictive. No, I can’t say I’ve learned anything from a bad review that I incorporated in future projects.
Thank you again to Ms. Brook for agreeing to answer my questions! Thank YOU, my wonderful readers for joining me today. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below which will take you to the main tour page with a list of tour participants!