The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery) by Dorothy St. James
About The Broken Spine
The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!
Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library's beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library's basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.
When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library's transformation into a "futuristic technological center," is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police's prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that's not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.
But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she'd have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn't commit, Trudell--with the help of a group of dedicated readers--decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can't always judge a book by its cover.
About Dorothy St. James
Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.
Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn't as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.
Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader's Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: "amazing", "perfect", "filled with emotion", and "lined with danger."
The Broken Spine by Dorothy St. James has Trudell Becket, assistant librarian, distraught that her beloved
library in Cypress, South Carolina is becoming bookless. The books are the heart of the library. The library and its books helped Trudell get
through some difficult times growing up.
When Trudell learns that the town manager, Duggar Hargrove is having the
books tossed into the landfill, she comes up with a plan. Trudell along with a couple of trusted
friends are transporting books into the basement vault when she hears a large
crash. She rushes upstairs to find
Duggar dead underneath a bookcase. Trudell
is surprised to discover that the lead detective is Jace who humiliated her in
high school. As if that is not bad
enough, Trudell learns she is the prime suspect. Trudell with help from two close friends
works to prove her innocence by finding the guilty party. The Broken Spine is the debut of A Beloved Bookroom Mystery series. I thought The
Broken Spine had an interesting premise.
A library with no books. This is
the first time that I had heard of this concept. I found The Broken Spine was easy to read
with some interesting characters. I do hope
the author will provide more background on Trudell in the next book. I would like to see her fleshed out more (I
want to know more about this book loving librarian) along with the other
regular characters (Tori, Flossie, Jace, Charlie). I just loved the cat, Dewey. He is a cute and smart feline. I also liked Charlie who is new to town and
opening The Deckled Edge. I thought that
was a clever name for a bookstore. The
mystery was clear-cut. There were a
couple of suspects, a red herring, and direct clues. I would like to see that mystery
in the next book to be more of a challenge.
I was not a fan of Jace and the way he treated Trudell. I think Trudell deserves someone better as her
romantic partner (maybe Jace will redeem himself in the next book). I am curious to see if Trudell can keep her
secret library hidden from her boss along with Dewey. The Broken Spine is a unique cozy mystery
with a bookless library, a clever cat, a demanding mayor, a bevy of beloved books,
a determined detective, and a lockpicking librarian.
No one in the moderately sized rurarl southern town of Cyrpess would
ever suspect their stalwart assistant librarian of breaking into the library where
she worked. Why would they? A bronze plaque hangs on my kitchen
wall. It was personally presented to me
by Mayor Goodvale. He declared me an
assist to the town. I’d received the
award because I always performed my job with the highest level of pride and
professionalism. For the past thirteen
years, I put the town and library first, often to the detriment of my personal
An even bigger honor occurred a few years ago
when Mrs. Lida Farnsworth, the town’s head librarian, whispered (she always
whispered) while we busily returned books to their shelves: “Trudell Becket, I
couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong about my first impression of you. I would
have hired any other candidate for the position. But, alas, the only
other person who’d applied was that drunkard Cooper Berry. I honestly didn’t
think you had it in you, honey. But, bless your heart, you’ve become the model
of a perfect librarian.”
And she was right. I was perfect.
Until . . .
Well, let’s just say someone needed to do this.
As a general rule, librarians don’t speak in
loud voices. Librarians don’t exceed the speed limit when driving to work. And
librarians certainly don’t dress head-to-toe in black ninja-wear while
attempting to pick the library’s backdoor lock.
Yet, librarians can always be counted on to
get things done.
“Don’t look at me like that,” I muttered to a
lanky brown cat with black tiger stripes. It had emerged from the darkened back
alleyway to stand next to library’s cool pearly-pink granite wall and watch me.
“Someone needs to protect those books before they all end up destroyed. They’re
sending them to the landfill.” The small metal flashlight clenched between my
teeth caused the words to come out garbled. Both of my hands were busy working
A textbook for locksmiths that I’d borrowed
from the library’s reference section sat open to the page featuring a diagram
of a lock. Since I didn’t own a lockpick kit—why would I?—I’d improvised with a
few sturdy paperclips bent to resemble the tools depicted on the book’s
previous page. Every little sound, every scrape and rumble in Cypress’s quaint
downtown, boomed in my ears. I jumped at the soft cough of a car engine. And
with that cat watching me, I felt an itchy need to scurry into the nearest
mousehole to hide.
But I couldn’t run. I had to finish what I’d
set my mind to finishing.
After what felt like a million thundering
heartbeats while I fumbled with the paperclips, the lock clicked. The door
opened. I rose on shaky legs, gathering up the reference book and the stack of
flattened moving boxes I’d brought with me. My gaze darted to the darkest
corners of the alleyway before I slipped inside.
Just as the door started to close, the cat
that had been watching with such a judgmental glare shimmied between my legs
and into the library before the heavy metal back door clanked closed.
“Hey!” I called in a harsh whisper because
shouting in a library simply wasn’t done. Whispering seemed even more important
in the middle of the night as I sneaked inside on my clandestine mission.
The brown cat ignored me. With a yeow loud
enough to have me instinctively hissing, “Shhhh!” the little beast
darted upstairs and disappeared into the shadows of the stacks.
“Tru, you’re in for it now,” I muttered before
dropping the stack of boxes. I sprinted after that darn cat.
Mrs. Farnsworth would have a heart attack if
she discovered a flea-bitten kitty wandering among her books in the morning. I
needed to get him out. The head librarian was already on edge with having to
deal with the changes coming to the library. If I didn’t know the tough older
woman better, I would have suspected she was busy plotting a murder.
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