When Carrie Singleton first moved back to her hometown of Clover Ridge to stay with her aunt and uncle, she never imagined herself putting down permanent roots. When she is offered the job of coordinating programs and events for the public library, however, she finds it hard to say no to the opportunity. After accepting the job, Carrie sheds her previously "goth" sense of style, moves into a brand-new rental cottage, makes several new friends (including the ghost of a former library employee) and attracts the attention of two eligible men, all while trying to solve two connected murders, one of which occurred during her very first library event.
I wanted to read this book mostly for the library setting, and I did enjoy that aspect of it. I do have to admit that this is not the most realistic 21st century library, as I think many librarians do dress in Carrie's "goth" style without a word from their supervisors, and Halloween and Thanksgiving programs such as the ones Carrie puts on are often frowned upon these days, at least according to certain members of the profession. For me, though, the Clover Ridge library is a believable place because it reminds me of the small-town library where I started my own library career. I found it charming, and though I am usually not a big fantasy reader, I even enjoyed that the library has its own friendly ghost. I also though the rivalry between Carrie and Dorothy, the director's best friend who had her sights on the programming job, was very realistic and relatable for anyone who has ever been in a similar situation.
I also really liked that this book is not just a murder mystery, but a story about how Carrie begins to settle into her new life. I liked meeting all the different people who make up the cast of her day-to-day life, and getting to know Clover Ridge as a community. Even with mysteries, I'm not someone who reads just for plot, so having lots of characters and a great sense of place helped me become invested in this book. Some of the evidence that eventually leads Carrie to the murderer felt a little thin to me, and I wasn't crazy about the way the story ended, but the other elements were so strong that it almost didn't matter. I am now invested in Carrie herself, as well as in her friendship with Evelyn, the ghost, and her budding relationship with a certain male character, and I will be looking forward to future volumes in this new series to see how things progress.
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