Friday, September 30, 2016

Denison, Lyn. Gold Fever (Tallahassee, Fla. : Naiad Press, 1998) 202 p.
Kate Bannister has returned to her childhood home of Charters Towers, Australia, to take the post of City Librarian. Kate is tall and blond but does not consider herself attractive. Kate is also a lesbian, and when a visiting author turns out to be her childhood friend, her life is thrown into turmoil.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dell, Floyd. Moon-Calf (New York: Knopf, 1921) 394 p.
As Felix Fay grows up in the Midwest, he loves books. The Librarian in the town of Maple, a strict but kindly old lady,  gives Felix books to read. She only gives him children's books, but as he finds more interesting books to read he tells her they are for his mother and she allows him to borrow them. (p. 42-45). Later, in high school,  Felix gets elected librarian of a school club and vigorously organizes a library (p. 105). Felix spends his evenings browsing the stacks at the public library. In the library he is a free citizen of a great world.  (p. 109).
In the larger town of Port Royal, Felix meets Helen Raymond, the Head Librarian of the Port Royal Public Library.

But to him she was not so much the librarian as the spirit, half familiar and half divine, which haunted this place of books. She might have been evoked by his imagination, even as were the shining spirits of wood and stream in an earlier day. She had, like these books, a spirit above the rush and stress of common life. Something in her light step, her serene glance, personified for him the spirit of literature; she was its spirit, made visible in radiant cool flesh.
More lately he had noted her quick, whimsical smile, and heard her soft, impetuous speech. But he had never thought of her as quite belonging to the world of reality. He knew librarianesses, and they had been kind to him. But of her as having any relation to himself he had never dreamed.
And now suddenly, breaking through the invisible veil behind which she had moved, she appeared to him as a person, a woman, tall, slender, beautiful, smiling, holding out her hand. (p. 173-74).

Helen introduces Felix to other writers and poets and helps to get his poems published.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Deeping, Warwick. Exiles (Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1930) 368 p.
In the south of Italy Miss Julia Lord runs an English library and tea room catering to expatriates. She works hard against the tide of sensuousness to maintain English efficiency and decorum.

In Tindaro the tendency was to lie late in bed, but Miss Lord had never allowed herself to succumb to the sensuous, save in the loving of her garden. If you succumbed in Tindaro you succumbed too thoroughly. Physical and mental hygiene were apt to go together, and if Tindaro did call the lady of the Villa Vesta “Miss Cold Bath,” it had every reason to respect her. (p. 16).

Miss Julia tries to instill this attitude in the young Miss Billy Brown, newly arrived from England to be her assistant.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Deaver, Jeffrey. The Twelfth Card (New York: Simon & Schuster, c2005) 395 p.
This thriller starts in the library of the African-American Museum in Manhattan. A sixteen year old girl is at a microfiche reader in the Booker T. Washington reading room, when she is attacked. The head librarian, Don Barry, plays a brief but significant role in the drama.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dean, S.F.X. By Frequent Anguish (New York: Walker, 1982) 211 p.
In this academic mystery the murder takes place in the college library.  The history and bizarre architecture of the library is described on p. 104-105.  The librarian is “Frances Anderson, a patient, kindly, endlessly obliging woman.” (p.88).
The cellist in a sextet hears a middle C while trying to tune.  The C turns out to be a noise produced by the faulty elevator.  The clue provided by the elevator leads to the murderer.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

De Bruyn, Günter. Buridan's Ass (Berlin, DDR: Seven Seas Books, 1973) 254 p. Original German edition, Buridans Esel, published Halle: Mitteldeutscher Varlag, 1968. Translated by John Peet.
Karl Erp, the director of a large library in East Berlin, finds himself attracted to a young librarian named Fraülein Broder. He promotes her over the objections of the other library staff and begins visiting her at home. When Karl finally leaves his wife and children and takes up residence with Fraülein Broder they spend hours in bed discussing their future in terms of library classifications systems.
There was, for instance, Group D (History, Contemporary Affairs), where the sub-division was debatable; he wished it to be personal (D1 Broder, D2 Erp) but she preferred subject division (D1 Pleasures of Confession, D2 Childhood Memories including Family History, D3 History of their own love, D4 Mutual Exchange of Historical Knowledge, D41 Berlin History – through her, D42 Library History – through him). (p. 159).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Davis, Lindsey. Alexandria (New York: Minotaur Books, 2009) 338 p.
An informer for the Roman Emperor solves a murder while on holiday in Alexandria. The victim is the Librarian of the great library.

His name was Theon. He looked acceptable on the surface but his clothes were a fortnight overdue at the laundry. They had never been stylish. His workaday tunic hung on a thin frame as if he never ate properly and his beard was sparse and straggly. Either he was too poorly paid to live up to his honourable position, or he was a natural slob. (p. 21).

The politics of selecting a replacement for Theon may ring bells for some academic librarians. Also the cataloging system and weeding policy of the library are discussed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Davis, Lavinia. Reference to Death (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1950) 221 p.
Kindly old Miriam Purvis, the librarian in Stillbridge, Connecticut, is found dead in the courtyard beneath her office window. It looks like suicide but one of her acquaintances suspects murder. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Davis, Dorothy Salisbury. A Town of Masks (New York: Dell, c1952) 223 p.
Campbell's Cove, on the shore of Lake Michigan boasts “one of the finest municipally owned libraries in the country.” (p. 7). The librarian is the young and intelligent Elizabeth Merritt. We don't see much of her library duties though. Her primary role in the story is to get caught making love to a rich woman's gardener.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Davis, Clyde Brion. The Anointed (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1937) 277 p.
After sailing all over the world a young man settles in San Francisco with a librarian named Marie.

So here I was looking at this stone building much larger than a warehouse. And all of a sudden I stopped stock-still with the thought that this tremendous big building was full of nothing but books. Thousands—hundreds of thousands—of books in there. Most of the smart men that had lived for centuries had written down the things they had studied out and these things had been printed in books.

The thought of it made me gasp like falling into cold water. (p. 229-230).

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Davies, Robertson. The Lyre of Orpheus (New York: Viking, 1989) 472 p.
Pages 117-122 describe how Simon Darcourt, a professor at the University of Toronto, steals manuscripts from the University Library.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Damsgaard, Shirley. Witch Way to Murder (New York: Avon Books, c2005) 292 p.
   -------. Charmed to Death (New York: Avon Books, c2006) 288 p.
   -------. The Trouble With Witches (New York: Avon Books, c2006) 292 p.
  -------. Witch Hunt (New York: Avon Books, c2007) 292 p.
   -------. The Witch is Dead (New York: Avon Books, c2007) 292 p.

Ophelia Jensen is the town librarian in Summerset, Iowa. Her work in the library rarely enters into these stories of murder and witchcraft. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Daly, Elizabeth. Night Walk (New York: Dell, 1982, c1967) 189 p.
The Rigby Library in the English village of Frazer’s Mills is a large library. Miss Bluett, the librarian is “tender of her reputation for good sense.” (p. 17).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Daly, Elizabeth. Nothing Can Rescue Me (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1943) 279 p.
Corinne Hutter, who works in the Erasmus Public Library, is one of the suspects in a murder involving an estate worth millions. Here is a quote: "I guess I'm like a lot of librarians they tell about- I know more names of books than what's in 'em." (p. 59). At the end of the book it is revealed that a key agreement is concealed in a book in the Erasmus Public Library (p. 272).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dallas, Ian. The Book of Strangers (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, c1988) 151 p.
This strange story starts with the disappearance of the Keeper of Archives, State University Library. He is referred to by the acronym of his job title, Kasul. It is the future and the archives is the only part of the library that still has books. Kasul's replacement narrates the story and soon decides to go hunting for a mysterious book. From here on the novel becomes an introduction to sufism.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dalkey, Kara. The Sword of Sagamore (New York: Ace Books, 1989) 235 p.
The Library of Sagamore is guarded by a Riddle-Beast. Scholars must answer the beast's riddle before entering. A wrong answer can bring the torment of the Pit of Itching Moss. The librarian is Denileen. “Like a behemoth from the sea, a tall man of moderate girth stood and towered over the desk. His placid face was framed in curly brown mutton chops that came together in a bristly moustache. His long thinning brown hair hung in a queue down his back. He regarded them with the calm gaze of a sleepy walrus.” (p. 106). The library catalog consists of a demon with a prodigious memory, but who can only work when you feed it. The more you feed it the more “bites” of memory are available. A dragon-like creature called a book wurm lurks in the stacks frightening readers and helping them locate books. When a book is checked out the librarian says, “See you in two weeks. Or the Wurm will.” (p. 112).

Monday, September 12, 2016

Curran, Terrie. All Booked Up (Toronto, New York: Worldwide, 1989) 219 p.
The Smedley Library, a small research institution in Metropolitan Boston, is losing rare books. More puzzling, it is gaining worthless copies of Tottel's Miscellany, a 16th century anthology of English verse. The library is inhabited by the usual stereotypes with some interesting twists. Edwina Gluck is the dour, skeletal circulation librarian who's goal is to prevent books from falling into the hands of patrons. Winifred Sisson is the reference librarian but is too timid to play much of a part in the story. Dr. Sara Tewksbury, the assistant director, is the most well developed character (no pun intended, read on). Sara sports a pair of "braless breasts" and likes to dress in a colorful eye-catching manner, although she probably overdoes her accessories. She doesn't get along too well with the director and had to sue the library for her job, but she is the competent administrator who holds things together. The director is Giles Moraise, a short fat toad of a man who hates all of his subordinates and turns out to be dishonest. Cyril Prout, the rare books curator, is bald and timid but professional and dedicated. The first victim of murder is the library's auditor, Leon Boehm. Predictably, none of the staff are too sorry about his death. The library is also inhabited by an entertaining assortment of patron's including researchers, a little old lady, and a young pimply-faced man whom no one realizes is a library employee. Anyone who has worked in a library will find something here that rings true.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cunningham, E.V. Sylvia (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960) 333 p.
A detective's search for a woman's past leads him at first to a branch of the Pittsburgh Public Library, and its librarian, Irma Olanski.

I guessed that she was my age, which is thirty-six, give or take a year or two in either direction, and with my first look I appreciated the clean-cut handsome planes of her face. Either you saw and recognized that immediately with Irma Olanski or you never saw it, and after that she would be to you a plain and rather severe woman, a tall, dry woman approaching a loveless and lonely middle age. Her brown hair, already streaked with gray, was drawn back tightly on the sides of her gray-green, her brows straight, her lips bare of lipstick, and only the width and the fullness of her lips suggested anything more than a colorless spinster librarian. (p. 60-61).

Irma helps the detective and they develop a close, if brief, relationship.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Crider, Bill. Dying Voices (New York: St. Martin's, c1989) 196 p.
The peace of a small college is shattered by the murder of a visiting poet. Librarian Miss Elaine Tanner ("She was wearing a clingy dress of some kind of man-made material .... She had honey-blonde hair and big green eyes that seemed even bigger because they were magnified by the lenses of the huge round glasses she wore." (p. 34)) reports the disappearance of the poet's books from the library. The college library is pathetic, featuring a creaky ancient elevator and a sign reading "Beware of Stack Vampires."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Craig, Philip R. The Woman Who Walked in the Sea (New York: Scribner's, 1991) 215 p.
This mystery's detective does a little investigating in the Edgartown Public Library on Martha's Vinyard. He thinks:

"Libraries are treasuries. They're mountains of information in which you can delve for free. They have things to read and places to read them, and you can even take material home with you. And librarians are also treasuries. When you can't find something yourself, they will show you how or else find it themselves. And unlike people at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, librarians want to help you." (p. 41).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cox, Darlene. A Little Bit of Larceny (Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, c2008) 314 p.
Miss Abigail Crittendon presides over the Logan (Iowa) Public Library. She is “tall and thin, with ash-blond hair gathered in a flattering French Twist. Dark blue eyes sparkled behind her glasses. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, not in a glamour-girl-Hollywood-starlet sort of way, but in a cool, reserved 'Myrna Loy' way.” (p. 7). But when dear old Miss Crittendon dies suddenly her young protege learns of her colorful secret past.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Courtenay, Bryce. Brother Fish (Toronto: McArthur, 2005) 842 p.
Miss Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan was born in 1906 in Russia. After fleeing the revolution with her family she spent many difficult years in China. She finally settled down on a small Tasmanian island where she served as Justice of the Peace, piano teacher, and librarian. In the latter capacity she mentored young Jacko McKenzie.

Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan remained imperious, didactic and aloof in all things other than when discussing books. She had a long neck and a chin that seemed always to be raised at a forty-five-degree angle so that she was forced to look at you through the bottom of her glasses, an effect that made her appear as if she didn't much like what she saw. (p. 56).

As an adult Jacko sees Nicole differently

Now I looked at her carefully – really looked for the first time. Her face was in profile and in repose. She was by her own admission a woman close to fifty, as slim as a rake, with her natural blonde hair beginning to turn grey. I felt a physical shock as I realised she was still a highly attractive woman and must have once been very beautiful. She used very little makeup – a lick of red lipstick and perhaps mascara. Her hair was cut, not overskilfully, in a bob, while her skin remained clear and firm …. (p. 556).

Jacko wonders why she never married, and lived on a tiny Australian island. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Courtenay, Bryce. The Power of One (New York: Random House, 1989) 518 p.
Mrs. Fiona Boxall runs the Barberton Public Library in South Africa. She is patient with the young boy who is learning to read and who makes notes in the margins of books. She joins in a conspiracy to smuggle letters from prison inmates to their families. When in time letters are allowed by the authorities, she begins a program to teach inmates to read and write. She raises money to help the black prisoners. She calls this effort “The Earl of Sandwich Fund”, and thus attracts donations from the racist white population. When a friend is arrested Mrs. Boxall says, “I tried to see him in prison, but those dreadful Boers said only authorized people could see him. If a librarian isn’t an authorized person, then who is, I ask you?” (p. 174).

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Coulter, Catherine. The Edge (New York: Putnam, 1999) 388 p.
The narrator of this thriller tracks a suspect to the Salem, Oregon Public Library.

Once inside you forgot how ugly the outside was. It was airy, lots of lights, the floor covered with a turquoise carpeting. The shelves were orange. Not what I would have picked, but it would keep students awake. (p. 78).

Here he finds Laura Scott, the senior Reference Librarian.

I took one look at her and felt a bolt of lust so strong I had to lean against the nineteenth-century English history section. ... She was slender, tall, and even though her suit was too long and a dull shade of olive green, it simply didn't matter. She'd look great in a potato sack. Her hair was made up of many shades of brown, from dark brown to a lighter brown to ash blond. It was all coiled up and smashed close to her head with lots of clips, but I could tell that it was long and thick. Lovely hair. I wanted to throw all those clips in the wastebasket under her desk....
Actually Laura Scott looked restrained, very professional, particularly with her hair scraped back like that, and she shimmered. (p. 79).

It turns out that Laura is not a real librarian, but an undercover drug agent. She claims, nonetheless, to have become a pretty good reference librarian.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Corwin, C.R. Morgue Mama: the Cross Kisses Back (Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2003) 230 p.
 -------. Dig (Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2005) 236 p.
 -------. The Unraveling of Violeta Bell: a Morgue Mama Mystery (Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2008) 230 p.
Dolly Madison Sprowls has been head librarian of the Hannawa Herald-Union for thirty-four years. Even though the newspaper's morgue has digitized Maddy still uses scissors and a felt pen.

For one thing, I refuse to use my computer for anything more complicated than reading my email or ordering clothes from Chadwick's or Lands' End. I leave all the real computer work to my assistant, Eric Chen. Keyboard-wise he's a genius. Life-wise he's a Class A doofus.
Another thing I refuse to do is retire. I know I'm a royal pain in the ass around here, but there's no way in hell the morgue could function without me. And there's no way I could function without the morgue. So I stay on, one birthday cake shy of seventy, making everyone's life just as miserable as I can. (p. 2-3).

Feisty old Maddy likes to figure out mysteries and sometimes she gets Eric to do some online research for her. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Corriveau, Art. Housewrights (New York: Penguin Books, 2002) 192 p.
Lily Willard seems to have mixed feelings about her job as town librarian in Cabot Fields Vermont. On one hand she loves "... to be surrounded each and every day by books!" (p. 30). On the other hand the job offers little excitement. The same doddering old-timers come every day to escape the heat of summer and reread books about the Civil War.

When other interests crowd Lily's attention she tends to open the library late and close early. The town Board of Selectmen decide to fire her because of this, but later they are forced to rehire Lily when a suitable replacement cannot be found.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Corle, Edwin. Burro Alley (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1938) 270 p.
Roberta Grace is staying in Santa Fe on holiday for a few days. She is a thirty eight year old library cataloger from Denver. She has little imagination or experience and is trying to have an adventure. Things do not work out very well.