Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Broken Spine by Dorothy St. James: Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway


The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery) by Dorothy St. James

About The Broken Spine


The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery) 


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."

Author Links

My Thoughts

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 life.

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 the lock.

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.

The Broken Spine is available from AmazonIndieBoundBookshop, and B&N.  The next A Beloved Bookroom Mystery is A Perfect Bind which publishes on September 7.  You can find all of Dorothy St. James' novels here.  As part of the tour, the author is hosting a giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card.  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Do not forget to leave a comment for an extra entry.  Good Luck!  Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on All That We Carried by Erin Bartels.  I hope that you have sunny day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

January 19 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW 

January 19 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 

January 19 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

January 19 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – REVIEW 

January 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

January 20 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

January 20 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST 

January 20 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW 

January 20 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW 
January 21 – Here's How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT 

January 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

January 21 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW 

January 21 – MJB Reviewers - SPOTLIGHT 

January 22 – Books to the Ceiling - AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

January 22 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

January 22 – Moonlight Rendezvous - REVIEW, GUEST POST 

January 22 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy - REVIEW 

January 22 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT 

January 23 – Baroness' Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
January 23 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW 

January 23 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT 

January 23 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 

January 24 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic - GUEST POST 

January 24 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST 

January 24 – Brianne's Book Reviews – REVIEW 

January 24 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT 

January 24 – StoreyBook Reviews - REVIEW 

January 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT 
January 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 

January 25 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST 

January 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT 

January 25 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW 

January 25 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


  1. Congrats on the new book release! This concept sounds so interesting and different.