Murder at the College Library

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Book 5 of A 42nd Street Library Mystery
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Pub Date Mar 05 2024 | Archive Date Feb 29 2024

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Crime-fiction librarian - and reluctant amateur sleuth - Ray Ambler gets mixed up in murder once again when he's called to appraise a mystery-novel collection at an exclusive New York college.

An invitation from a prestigious liberal arts college to buy their mystery-novel collection comes as a welcome surprise for Raymond Ambler, crime-fiction curator at New York City's prestigious 42nd Street Library. But his pleasure quickly turns sour when the collection's curator - Ambler's friend Sam Abernathy - tells him he plans to fight the acquisition tooth and nail.

The collection would make a fine addition to his holdings, but Ambler's not looking for drama. It's a shame, then, that drama's looking for him. Just a couple of weeks later, one of Abernathy's colleagues is shot dead from the library's roof, and all signs point to the crime-loving professor as the perpetrator of the violent act.

Why would Abernathy kill - and was it for his collection, for college politics, or for some dark secret yet to be revealed? Ambler's not sure his old friend's a killer, but he is sure he wants justice - for both the living and the dead.

Working with his son John, he launches into an investigation at the college library, and it's not long before he discovers missing manuscripts, explosive secrets and scandals amongst the faculty staff . . . and a cunning killer who'll stop at nothing to cover up their crimes.

The 42nd Street Library mystery series blends traditional mystery with a hint of noir, and is a great pick for fans of quintessential New York writers like Ed McBain and SJ Rozan, along with those who enjoy traditional amateur sleuths and fair-play puzzles.

Crime-fiction librarian - and reluctant amateur sleuth - Ray Ambler gets mixed up in murder once again when he's called to appraise a mystery-novel collection at an exclusive New York college.


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ISBN 9780727823052
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Average rating from 19 members

Featured Reviews

Murder at the College Library is a welcome new installment in Con Lehane’s 42nd Street Public Library series. In this outing, NYPL flagship crime fiction collection curator Raymond Ambler is pulled into a bizarre set of circumstances at a small Bronx college apparently seeking to monetize its own collection of mysteries. Along the way, Lehane spoofs various peculiarities of higher education and its cast of characters, though he does grant a faculty senate more power (and money) than one is ever likely to wield. The plot is a little far-fetched at times, including a completely blasé response by all when Ambler is injured on the job (his PI job, not his library job). This book also has more social commentary than I recall in others, with topics including campus shootings, domestic violence, and PTSD. But for fans of the series or those who will enjoy a mystery focused on the world of rare book collecting with scenic journeys through Manhattan (and now, the Bronx), it will be a pleasant excursion.

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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Con Lehane, and Severn House for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Eager to get my hands on Con Lehane’s latest novel, I devoured the book in short order. Lehane returns to New York’s fabled 42nd Street Library, where librarian Raymond Ambler finds himself in the middle of a mystery tied to the crime fiction collection he oversees. A reluctant sleuth, his skills are called upon when someone at a local college is shot in an act apparently tied to the procurement of a collection of books for the library. As Ambler delves deeper, he learns a great deal about life on campus and the treachery that comes with it. Lehane impresses and adds to a wonderful collection for the reader to explore.

Raymond Ambler loves is job as curator of the crime-fiction collection at New York’s 42nd Stree Library. He has amassed quite the collection and become well-known in his field, helping many discover the wonders of mystery. When he is invited to view the collection of a small liberal arts colllege in the Bronx, he jumps at the chance, but not the politics with which he is met upon arrival.

The faculty is close-knit, mostly because there are few rather than the connection one might expect. The collection, a mix of obscure authors and less than renowned books, is not what Ambler might have expected, but it is something worth exploring. When, over the next week, one of the professors is shot by a sniper, a particular member of the faculty is accused. Sam Abernathy happens to be a friend Ambler has known for years and is strongly against selling the collection to the Library. While nothing is for sure, the evidence points to Abernathy, which has Ambler a tad nervous, but also worried. When Abernathy goes on the lam, things take a significant turn and his guilt is apparently solidified in the eyes of many.

Ever the reluctant amateur sleuth, Ambler agrees to try piecing things together, while balancing his work and personal lives in a precarious manner. Truths emerge that no one could have expected and Abernathy remains the primary suspect. The faculty are keen to turn on one another, and Ambler soon feels that backstabbing is an Olympic sport for these academics. With Abernathy proclaiming his innocence, Ambler will have to explore all avenues.

After Ambler’s son, John, begins helping, things take a significant turn for the worse. John is a reformed criminal who has connections in the darker and seedier side of New York. Discovering the likely sniper, John tries to bring the intel to his father, but things go awry.

Fuelled by his desire to help two people in his life, Raymond Ambler will have to parse through th evidence and try to lure a killer or someone responsible for ordering it out of the shadows before the police lock things don and throw away the proverbial key. Ambler may be a librarian, but his feisty side will not rest until truth comes out and answers reveal themselves. Lehane does a masterful job with this piece, offering up another winner.

I stumbled onto the work of Con Lehane with the series debut and have not looked back. While I love a good mystery, I am always looking for the unique perspective to keep things exciting. Lehane develops a strong narrative once more, using Ambler’s abilities as a crime-fiction aficionado and uses key elements to crime solving. The momentum develops and is soon clipping along, with a thickening plot and characters who emerge from the shadows. Lehane keeps them on the path as all the elements fall into place for a great mystery.

Plot points emerge and twits take over through this book. As the piece gains interest, there is a sub-plot or two worth exploring, but the reader is left with enticing morsels, rather than a full exposition of all that is taking place. Lehane does well to keep the reader hooked and has me wondering when the next in the series might emerge, as I enjoy this unique perspective to crime fighting.

Kudos, Mr. Lehane, for keeping me intrigued until the final page turn.

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mystery, crime-fiction, murder, attempted-murder, academia, NYPL, curator, library, librarian, family-dynamics, family-expectations, family-drama, divorced, investigations, friends, frustration, secrets, lies, infidelities, suspense, suspicion*****

Patience and Fortitude (the stone lions in front of the main NYPL) approve of this book.
A nice lazy whodunit involving NYPL curator of crime fiction Ray Ambler as he gets roped into continuing as an amateur sleuth following the sniper murder of a librarian/professor at a small local college. Things get so tangled in the secrets and lies that it is less of a surprise than it might be when Ambler himself is unexpectedly shot while traversing the quadrangle. I found it to be a good read on a very cloudy day.
I requested and received an EARC from Severn House via NetGalley. Thank you!
number five in the 42nd Street Library mysteries

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I love 42nd Street Library Mysteries and I think there's less instalment than I would love. This was an intriguing and fascinating one: academic politics, rivalries, betrayal.
Ambler is a great character, I love him and his complex family. There's a lot going on, there's some changes and a solid mystery.
Loved it, please let's hope there will be a new one soon.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Murder at the College Library is the fifth 42nd St. Library mystery by Con Lehane. Released 5th March 2024 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 240 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.

The main protagonist isn't young, tough, or wisecracking. He's a mild mannered librarian with a melancholy background, trying to live his life honorably with a very challenging life situation (previously estranged son recently out of prison, grandson in his immediate nuclear family, partner who is expecting a baby, etc). It's very refreshing that he isn't a superhero. The characters are well written, with well plotted motivations and, in some cases, agendas. There's a lot going on: murder on a local liberal arts college campus for which MC Ambler's friend is a prime suspect, theft of potentially valuable first edition classic mysteries, more tie-in subplots involving a secondary character (McNulty the bartender) from the other books. Despite so many subplots, the author handled the complex storyline well, and readers won't have trouble keeping the story straight. The murders are bloodless and off-scene. The denouement is tense, action filled and satisfying.

One of the main characters in this book (McNulty) is also the protagonist in his own series of 3 books, making this book a tie-in/crossover. It works fine as a standalone. One of the best parts of these books is the name-dropping classic mystery title and author trivia and recommendations. Book lovers will always find at least a few titles to chase down after finishing this one. It's lovely to see the classic mystery authors of the 19th-20th centuries getting some attention.

The language in this book is rough (R rated), there's is potentially triggering discussion of sexual infidelity and abuse/abandonment.

Four stars, entertaining, well written, and satisfying.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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loved the use of librarian in this book, it had everything that I was hoping for and enjoyed from the mystery element perfectly with what I was hoping for. The characters were everything that I was hoping for and enjoyed in this type of book. Con Lehane has a great writing style that worked with this story and glad I got to read this.

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