Murder Past Due:
A Cat in the Stacks
By Miranda James
I found this debut, second printing, book on my TBR shelf and decided I needed something light and fun to read after the various complex novels that I'd recently read. Besides, my favorite-sized book has always been the paperback so I literally took this with me for a cozy mystery in my cozy, warm bed...
First I had to stop and remember two former associates from my campus career--Robert Munn and Ruth Jackson who are two former Deans of Libraries on the WVU campus with whom I had the privilege to work. Why? Because, of course, the main character in this new series is a librarian, retired now, but like me, still involved, especially with books--in Athena, Mississippi--Charlie Harris...
"Oh, Hi Diesel! " Thanks for stopping by..."
"Well, yeah, Diesel, I would have liked to have you do this review, but...you don't talk, and you didn't really participate in solving the mystery... I know you played an important part, especially with Justin...but how are you going to tell my readers about the story?"
"Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!"
"Charlie's with you? So, he'll be my guest today? Well, Okay...Charlie Harris, Welcome to Book Reader's Heaven! I hope you don't mind that I took the time to give a shout out for two head librarians from the campus where I worked for nearly 40 years!"
Godfrey Priest was the first one when he barged in on me without an appointment, even knowing that I could never stand the man! Anyway, since I was the Archivist for the campus and he wanted to donate his papers, I had to talk to him. Ok, he is an author, but not exactly one that would greatly add stature to our collection. Even though he had come from the town and gone to college here. But I did manage to negotiate an accompanying endowment so I was thankful that I had acted professionally.
Still, when he switched gears and told me, I imagine, why he was really here, I was floored. Not only because he was admitting something so personal to me, but that Justin, the boy he identified, was rooming with me since he'd started classes and I had come to care about him as well as feeling some responsibility for him as he lived under my roof!
In fact, it was my concern about Justin that had led to my going out trying to find him and discovered him just sitting along a street, looking quite dazed. That, as you know now, led me to be the one who actually found Godfrey Priest in his room--quite dead--and called the police!
How was I to know that Kanesha would be heading the case as the newly appointed Acting Chief Deputy Sheriff?! Having her as lead was a major reason I even got involved, although I couldn't tell her that! You see, Kanesha 's mother, Azalea, is my part-time housekeeper. I was privileged to inherit my present home from a loving aunt and Azalea had made it quite clear to me and to her daughter that she would continue keeping up this beautiful house. Which I was quite grateful for naturally. But, now Kanesha was in a temporary position and it was a murder--the first the town had for many years! So, Azalea had asked that I try to help in the case, but, of course, without her daughter knowing she had asked! What's a man to do...
Now, Godfrey had never been well-liked in town, except for the ladies--he would turn on the charm and...well, I won't go into just how many town-girls had been involved in flings with him. All of whom had to be considered as "persons of interest..." Then I was shocked that even my boss had been involved in the past with Godfrey when a former wife had divorced him to marry Godfrey!
But then Godfrey's papers were delivered and I realized that they had been shipped long before he and I talked--Just like him to think that we would naturally be thrilled to receive his thrillers--oh, well, I like that turn of phrase--thrilled to receive his thrillers!
In any event, I really started investigating into what I now had in my possession and started finding, well, clues, of course. And what a cozy little complex set of secrets started to appear. Fun tracking everything down!
Well, Charlie, I have to say that I had the first of those secrets figured out right at the beginning of the book but I really did not guess who murdered Godfrey, so Miranda James fooled me in Murder Past Due which was a perfect title for the book--and for Godfrey Priest! LOL
Charlie, I have two confessions: I was sorry that Diesel didn't participate in solving the mystery, even though he makes a wonderful cat character I loved and, second, I've so enjoyed having you tell the story from your perspective and I'm going to be one of your thousands of fans! Can't wait to catch up with this series! And, readers--well, you know who you are! If you've missed this new cat in the stacks mystery series like I had, it's highly recommended!
Miranda James is the pseudonym of Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian long transplanted to Texas. A mystery fan since the age of ten, he wrote his first novel at the ripe old age of twelve. The only copy of The Mystery of the Willow Key vanished years ago, but since it was highly derivative of the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series, that’s probably a good thing.
Currently a librarian in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Dean has published articles on topics in library science, the history of science/medicine, and mystery fiction. His first book, which he co-wrote with fellow librarian Jean Swanson, was By a Woman’s Hand(Berkley; 1994). Jean and Dean won an Agatha Award for Best Mystery Non-Fiction and were nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for the Edgar for Best Critical-Biographical work for this popular reference book. A second edition followed two years later, and Dean and Jean collaborated on two further projects, Killer Books(Berkley; 1998) and The Dick Francis Companion (Berkley; 2003). In all he has co-authored or co-edited six works of mystery reference and one short story anthology.
His first novel, Cruel as the Grave (Silver Dagger Mysteries) was published in 2000. Since then he has published seventeen more novels, writing under his own name and the pseudonyms Jimmie Ruth Evans and Honor Hartman. In August 2010 he launched a new series writing as Miranda James. The first book under this name, Murder Past Due (Berkley Prime Crime; $7.99) spent four weeks on the extended New York Times bestseller list for mass market paperbacks. The second book in the series, Classified as Murder, published in May 2011, also hit the NYT list. The third book, File M for Murder is out now. The fourth book in the series will be out in January 2013.
Dean lives with one elderly cat, thousands of books, and thinks frequently about killing people – but only in the pages of fiction.
Sorry, Dean/Miranda, Cats always get top billing when visiting. Like/Find Diesel on Facebook!