Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can’t crack its code, she may end up read and buried.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library’s foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.
The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library–the map and the coded page are missing.
Lucy’s nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy–or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she’s forced to do what she vowed not to do–get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.
I think I say this every time I get the chance to review a Lighthouse Library mystery, but this is one of my very favorite series. The library in a lighthouse setting is about as cozy as you can get, and I’m more than a little jealous of Lucy’s apartment upstairs.
The characters in this series really do feel like old friends to me at this point. I love the consistency of their characters, and it’s a pleasure to see each of them again, even Lucy’s nemesis Louise Jane.
This time around, Lucy finds a box containing a map and a page of code while digging is being done to repair the lighthouse foundation. Soon after, a member of the historical society turns up dead, and Lucy finds herself pulled into another murder investigation.
Read and Buried has a wonderful plot – the code adds one more layer of mystery to the story, and it was great fun trying to figure it out along with Lucy. Now I just have to wait for the next book in the series…
Please keep reading for a wonderful guest post from author Eva Gates
The Magic of Lighthouses
By Eva Gates
Lighthouses are marvellous things.
Because I live in the middle of a continent, and always have, lighthouses to me were never more than scenic buildings on windswept shores.
But now I’m writing the Lighthouse Library series from Crooked Lane, which is set in the historic (and real) Bodie Island Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As I’ve worked on the books, I’ve learned some of the history of lighthouses in general and the Bodie Island Lighthouse in particular.
The first lighthouses were nothing more than buckets of flaming pitch hauled up to the top of a tall pole, to show fisherman or sailors the way home. These lights were essentially to help your family or villagers find their way at night. But over the years the primary purpose of a lighthouse became to protect people one might never even meet. A ship, simply passing in the night.
Imagine being on a leaky, creaky sailing ship. A dark night, a terrifying storm. A near, but not visible, coastline, dangerous currents and sharp rocks.
And then, visible though the dark, a brief flash of light telling you where you are, and what dangers to avoid.
These days, with satellite navigational systems and coasts lit up enough to be seen from space, a lighthouse is little more than a quaint relic of the past. But they are marvellous places to visit, a reminder of the past, and I believe a true marker of civilization.
In By Book or By Crook, the first book in the Lighthouse Library Series, Lucy Richardson is having dinner with an old friend.
“A lighthouse,” Connor said at last, as the Roanoke light flashed, “is a truly marvelous thing.”
“Beautiful,” I agreed.
“So much more than that. At the Currituck Light they have a saying on the wall I always remember, ‘to Illuminate the dark space.’ That doesn’t seem so important in today’s world, where there are so few truly dark spaces. Particularly along most of the coast of North America. Lights on the eastern seaboard are so bright some cities scarcely have night any more. But in the old days, the days before electricity? Imagine being out to sea, in a warship powered only by wind or a small fishing boat on a cloudy night, no radio, no satellite guidance, a storm raging all around. And then, in the distance, that flash of light. And you would know you were not alone.”
By Book or By Crook by Eva Gates
In the third book in the series, Reading Up A Storm, Lucy Richardson is above to perform one of the functions of a lighthouse: spot ships in distress and send for help.
Opaque sheets of rain blew across my line of sight. As I tried to peer around the rain drops, a calm spot blew in and I could see. The light was dipping and weaving, there one second, gone the next, as waves tossed it about. It had almost reached the shore and was heading straight for the four bobbing lights. Those lights looked exactly like boats resting comfortably in harbor. But no harbor was there.
Ghost ships? The thought flashed unbidden into my mind. Louise Jane McKaughnan, the self-appointed source of all knowledge on the paranormal legends of the Outer Banks had plenty of stories about ancient shipwrecks and long-dead sailors still struggling to save themselves.
Whether the lights were from a supernatural presence or not, there was a vessel out to sea and it was in distress.
Reading Up A Storm, by Eva Gates
In Read and Buried, the sixth book in the series, the historic building is in danger of collapsing, taking the library and Lucy’s fourth floor apartment she calls her Lighthouse Aerie along with it. Work is being done to shore up the foundations when… something is found buried at the base of the tower that sets off a frantic chase for old documents and a modern killer.
About the Author
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.
Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
- Website: www.vickidelany.com www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor;
- Twitter: @vickidelany @evagatesauthor
- Instagram: vickidelany
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