Monday, August 25, 2014

Case Study No. 1530: Lauren Long

"Dead in the Stacks" book trailer
Dead in the Stacks (The Curious Librarian Cozy Mystery Series)
Zana Hart (Author)

Publication Date: September 20, 2013
Tags: curious librarian cozy mystery
Added: 7 months ago
From: ToonLib
Views: 6

A library director,
suspected of
murder most foul.

The victim?
A library board member
notorious for his
womanizing ways ...

Can the
Silvermine Public Library
survive such a scandal?



The Silvermine Public Library had never had a dead body on the floor before. The body was that of library board member Mark Wagner, and it could have been a heart attack. But of course the possibility of murder came up. Who would have killed Mark? What about the many women he hit on, putting his big hands where they didn't belong? What about the many people who had suffered from his rapacious real estate deals? If you counted up who was annoyed at Mark, it would be hundreds or even thousands of people in Silvermine (pop. 10,000). If you counted up who might really have done it, well, there were several suspects.

Some people were talking about the library director Lauren Long, but she had her hands full, trying to keep the momentum for a new library going forward while everyone's attention was on the death. There was her love life to keep going, too, and then someone tried to break into her house, more than once. Was she marked for murder? In this new story, the first of the Curious Librarian Cozy Mystery series, author and librarian Zana Hart weaves a tale that leaves red herrings all over the library.



Mark Wagner was lying dead in the stacks of the Silvermine Public Library, his body sprawled in front of the 100s and 200s, not that the occult books, the near death experiences collections, or the Bibles would do him any good now. They weren't his sort of thing anyway. As Lauren Long stood looking down at his body, she thought that if he had ever written a book it would have been more along the lines of "How to Cheat on Your Wife and Keep Her as Your Housekeeper" or maybe "101 Ways to Rip Others Off with Real Estate Deals."

Mark's cold body had been found by Richard Black, the janitor, at 6 this morning. Richard had called the police and then her as library director. She had thrown on some sweats and jogged the three blocks from her house. So here she was, arriving even before the police. She was surprised that she wasn't feeling much emotion, no more than if she had been looking at a piece of paper on the floor. No doubt her emotions would come later. She guessed Mark had died quickly, likely from a heart attack. He had had one last year, just before she came to Silvermine.

"I'm glad the library was closed and that you were the one who found the body," she said to Richard. "What if he had died during the preschool story hour?"

"Would have given the kids an education," Richard said. "But finding the body didn't bother me. I must have seen hundreds of dead bodies in Afghanistan, a lot of them buddies of mine who deserved to live a lot more than this sleazebag. Half the town could have murdered him gladly."

He nudged a dead hand with the toe of his boot and went off to continue the cleaning. With his shaved head, earring, neck tattoo, muscular physique, and black clothing, Richard had a bad-boy look that Lauren found attractive. He wasn't her type, though.

Last night Mark had been very much alive. He had had a little smile on his face as the other members of the library board each announced how much they had raised in pledges for a new library building. Margaret Snow had pledges of five thousand dollars, the other people less. He had chosen to be the last to speak, and then he had said, "I don't have the exact numbers yet, but it should be just over a hundred thousand." That caused a stir.

Even then, Laura had been skeptical, wondering how much of that would actually turn up, but now that his body was lying here, she hoped that his would-be donors would honor their generous pledges. The board would need a good amount raised before they could even think of going to the voters for a building that could cost around a million dollars. Mark was casual about paperwork, so who knew what he had written down?

She supposed she should be feeling sad that he had died, but her mind kept going to the fundraising. She'd come to Silvermine last year to run the library, choosing this job over some much better-paying ones, mainly because the challenge of creating a new library interested her. She liked the town of Silvermine and thought it would be a great place to live. Tucked in below some of the great mountains of Colorado, with a population of just under ten thousand, it had lots of historic buildings from its days of mining glory. It was only a few hours' drive across the mountains to Denver, where she had grown up, gone through college, and gotten her Master's of Library and Information Science.

How had Mark come to be in the library, anyway? With it closing at 9, and Mark's announcement around 8:30 or so, he must have just made it in the door before they closed. But how would Deanna or Ashley not have seen his body on the floor when they locked up? Everyone knew to check the whole building carefully at closing, even the closets, bathrooms, and office. Ever since they'd found a homeless man sleeping overnight in the library last winter, even Deanna had been careful to close up securely.

Things weren't adding up. Had Mark snuck in later for some reason? With all his real estate experience, he could easily know how to get into locked buildings. She thought he wouldn't have had any trouble breaking into an old Carnegie library. But why?

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