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Murder in the Manuscript Room
January 8, 2018
Murder in the Manuscript Room
A 42nd Street Library Mystery
by Con Lehane
St. Martin's Press
Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 21 Nov 2017
I had a hard time getting through Murder in the Manuscript Room. Don’t get me wrong, it is well written. The problem I had was that it dealt too much with contemporary politics for it to be an escapist read. An Arab scholar is automatically accused when a young woman working under an assumed name at the library is murdered. Due process is thrown out the window and the police are excluded from the investigation - an investigation led by a shady intelligence contractor who has his own motivations. The tension rises quickly, and the situation appears hopeless. Everything that could be done to frame an innocent, but convenient target is done. The more I read, the more anxious and uncomfortable I became. Based on the description, I expected a complex mystery but what I didn’t expect was the heavy and pertinent political content.
If you are interested in a realistic mystery that touches heavily on the prejudice foreigners face and the corruption of private for-profit intelligence groups, you will probably enjoy Murder in the Manuscript Room. If you are looking for a lighter, more escapist read, you would probably be happier with another choice.
3 / 5
I received a copy of Murder in the Manuscript Room from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
The second in Con Lehane's 42nd Street Library mystery series, Murder in the Manuscript Room is a smart, compelling mystery in which the characters themselves are at least as interesting as the striking sleuthing.
"Not to be missed.” —Megan Abbott
"A story utterly relevant to the real-life horror story unfolding in America’s immigration politics.”—Sara Paretsky
When a murder desecrates the somber, book-lined halls of New York City’s iconic 42nd Street Library, Raymond Ambler, the library’s curator of crime fiction, has a personal interest in solving the crime. His quest to solve the murder is complicated by personal entanglements involving his friend—or perhaps more-than-friend—Adele Morgan. Not only does Adele’s relationship with the young woman staffer who was murdered get in the way of Ambler’s investigation, more disturbing for him is Adele’s growing interest in a darkly handsome Islamic scholar.
Soon the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department takes over the case from NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove, Ambler’s friend and sometimes partner-in-crime solving. Ambler suspects that the murder of the young woman, who’d been working at the library under an assumed name and the curious intervention of NYPD’s intelligence division are connected. The trail of intrigue leads to a seemingly unrelated murder in an upstate prison and a long ago murder of a trade union reformer.
No one else sees the connections Ambler is sure are there—not an unusual state of affairs for Ambler. But with the city’s law enforcement establishment determined to stop his investigation, the inquisitive and intrepid librarian faces challenges that may put his very life at risk.