Murder at the 42nd Street Library | Author: Con Lehane | Rating: 8/11 |
In Con Lehane’s first installment of the Raymond Ambler series, we find ourselves on our way into the iconic 42nd Street Library in New York City, past Patience and Fortitude, the lions standing guard and into an obscure second floor office, where Dr. James Donnelly is brutally murdered in front of a library employee. From that opening scene springs a novel that abounds with a mysterious cast of characters, all of whom seem to have a connection to the murder victim.
Harry Larkin, the director of the library’s special collections and former Catholic Priest, bears witness to the murder from the confines of his office, but is unable to identify the murder victim. Detective Mike Cosgrove is assigned to the murder, where he enlists help from his old friend Raymond Ambler, the curator of the Crime Fiction collection and amateur sleuth (Arthur Conan Doyle much?). Having spent his life amongst the very murder mysteries that he finds himself living out, and with a sixth sense that lends itself to details that may otherwise go unnoticed, Ambler begins to delve deeper into the murder.
As Ambler investigates, he stumbles upon ties to the author Nelson Yates, whose papers the library has recently acquired, mere days before Yates becomes yet another murder victim. Acknowledging that the murders are surely connected, his investigation then leads him further down the rabbit hole into the past; a past where Yates, Donnelly, library employees and recent library patrons all have something to hide. Finding himself connecting his own past to those of the suspects, Ambler tries to find a way to forge a new future for himself as well.
Though the story can be formulaic and predictable at times, the plethora of well-developed and likable characters and the story’s iconic setting lends much to the feeling of intensity that underlies the novel. With this being the first in a new series for Lehane (although not his first written trilogy), readers will be wise to expect a follow-up worth waiting for.