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Publisher's Summary

With her twins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, back in school, Jane Steward can finally focus on her work again - managing Storyton Hall and breaking ground on the resort's latest attraction: a luxurious, relaxing spa named in honor of Walt Whitman. 

But when the Earth is dug up to start laying the spa's foundation, something else comes to the surface - a collection of unusual bones and the ragged remnants of a very old book. The attendees of the Rare Book Conference are eager to assist Jane with this unexpected historical mystery - until a visitor meets an untimely end in the Henry James Library. As the questions - and suspects - start stacking up, Jane will have to uncover a killer before more unhappy endings ensue . . .

©2018 Ellery Adams (P)2018 Tantor

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Six stars (extra credit for being so good!)

In Murder in the Locked Library by Ellery Adams, Jane Steward is finally getting her spa built at Storyton Hall, the resort she manages that is filled with books from floor to ceiling and has a full-time librarian. But as the contractors are digging the foundation, Jane's 7-year-old twins, Fitzgerald (Fitz) and Hemingway (Hem), who are happily watching the moving of dirt, spot a bone, halting construction. The police come and find more of a skeleton, plus a locked box with it. At a local university in Virginia, where Storyton is located, the police chief locates a forensic anthropologist, who eagerly comes to Storyton to excavate the skeleton along with several graduate students. Celia deduces that the skeleton belongs to a mid-19th century man suffering from both rickets and tuberculosis. The box contains an old book that has deteriorated so badly that only three words can be found in it: "skin the tongue," making them assume it is an old cookbook. But even more dramatic, the skeleton of the man shows signs of having been murdered. But Jane believes that instead of murder, the man was killed by a Fin, a much earlier generation of the skilled men who protect Jane, Guardian of Storyton Hall, and the treasures of secret and valuable books it contains.

Celia asks Jane and Sterling, the full-time librarian and a Fin, to research the book. As Storyton is hosting a conference of the Robert Harley Rare Book Society, it seems ideal to ask the assistance of the members of that society in identifying the book. Bart Baylor, president of the society and the "Book Doctor," the best restorer of old books, comes to tell Jane and Sterling that he has found the solution to the book. The blank pages aren't really blank but written with a form of hidden ink, and he has figured out the book's identity, possibly the only copy of a previously destroyed book known as The Devil's Recipes and which contains recipes that have poisonous foods in many recipes. Then, just before Bart gets to the conclusion, he has a seizure that they think has come from his allergy to latex, but the epi-pen doesn't work, and he dies.

Murder in the Locked Library ties together a murder more than a hundred years old with a murder that takes place today. Some of the details related to the Rare Book Society has really interesting details, such as a workshop on printing with movable type, as in Gutenburg's printing press. I also enjoyed a contest in which each members of the society wore a costume that created a pun, usually of the title of a book, but sometimes other topics. I had fun guessing the meaning of the costumes with Jane and her best friend, Eloise.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book as they returned with further development from the previous book, Murder in the Secret Garden. I enjoyed the details of the Fins and seeing their planning sessions, though I missed getting to see the Fins put Jane and her twins through physical training.

I also really appreciate the Cover Girls, Jane's book club where they all support each other and fill in for Jane when she is occupied trying to save the world. It would have been fun to see a little more of these women. They prove to be excellent rolen models of strong women who can be feminine at the same time. I sometimes hear people argue that feminism does not go with femininity, but the Cover Girls, all of whom are professional women and most of whom own their own businesses in the town of Storyton demonstrate that a woman can be romantic and have a great relationship with a man, all the while dressing up glamorously for balls, without losing the inner strength that comprises her feminism. This amazing group of women show women and girls today that they don't have to choose between their own personal identity with a career and having a feminine, romantic life as well.

There are a lot of great cozy mystery authors who create much more content than just an interesting plot, but Ellery Adams is by far and away the best at combining deeper lessons with great plots and interesting characters. In Murder in the Locked Library, we see a clear demonstration of how certain books can contain dangerous materials that could create havoc if made public. This book makes it clear that books themselves are not the danger; instead, it is the dangerous content created by dangerous people that makes a book risky for the public to access. For example, books from the early 20th century advocating eugenics have the potential to encourage some people to sterilize those with mental deficiencies in order to prevent them from passing on their mental problems. Or books arguing that black people are subhuman can encourage severe discrimination against thosev of this race. Thus, Jane and Storyton Hall preserve these books as secret, not to destroy them, but to hold onto them until they will no longer exert the same power to create the societal damage they would exert if made public today.

Another of Adams's real gifts is mixing together genres to blend into one unique genre. While this book is primarily a cozy mystery, it also has elements of a standard family drama and fantasy features. In the first book, as Jane enters the social library, she compares her experience going into the library as going through the Wardrobe into the enchanted world of Narnia. This gives the books a sense of fantasy to it, as we enter a special world made just for books. But it's only a touch of fantasy, as this is the extent of that genre.

Johanna Parker the audio edition of Murder in ther Locked Library. Parker has a voice that is appropriately suited to the sense of this book, and I felt delight in the voices she gives each character. She reads with such expression, especially the romantic passages, that I truly feel transported to Storyton myself.

The whole book riveted me, keeping me listening continuously and not even letting me go to sleep until I had completed this book because it was just too good to take a break from it. It has been nearly two years since the previous book in this series, Murder in the Secret Garden, was published. On the one hand, we had to wait too long to continue this excellent series, but on the other hand, it was worth the wait. I just hope that the next book in the series doesn't take nearly as long for us to be able to enjoy them. I give this book an honorary seven stars out of five. After all, don't we all like to get extra credit? And this book deserves it more than most.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 07-09-18

Much Awaited Book 4 is a Winner

This is by far my favorite series, and as much as I loved Book Four, I'm now in a quandary as I wait for the NEXT installment . . . when demolition begins for the Walt Whitman Spa, much to everyone's dismay, bones are discovered on the grounds of Storyton Hall. Jane's twins, Fitz and Hem, ever alert, notice that the workman at the site picks up something, putting it into his pocket, before the authorities arrive and close down the site for investigation. When the police arrive, they discover not only a skeleton, but a locked box. A world renowned forensic anthropologist is called in to determine the manner of death, age of the corpse and any other clues as to who the person might be. After carefully prying the locked box open, the remnants of a nearly destroyed very old book is found inside. With the work on the spa site at a standstill, Jane focuses on discovering more about the book, buried with the man . . . a book so precious that he had taken with it with him to his grave . . . and also on her next group of visitors to Storyton Hall, The Robert Harley Rare Book Society. Jane's beau, Edward is again off to foreign lands in search of rare books . . . but this time she does not hear from him regularly and fears something is afoot . . . The story takes twists and turns, making us wonder who the culprit is . . . the regular, beloved Fins are all there, Jane's aunt and uncle, and the Cover Girls . . . a very old murder and a brand new one . . . and a mighty good story to reveal just how they ended up dead . . .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

intriguing mystery

This made me want to read more, would love to listen to more in this series

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Storyton Hall reveals hidden secrets

This is the best Storyton mystery, yet. When human remains are found in an excavating dig on the Storyton property, the past catches up with the present. The stakes are high for Jane as she and the other Finns try to find out who is behind the murders. These are among my favorite cozy mysteries. keep'em coming, Ellery!
Also, Johanna Parker is an excellent narrator, giving distinct voices to the characters and building suspense with her voice.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As ever this was an entertaining story

I liked the narrator and the characters. The mystery was good and ending was a surprise. I’d recommend it for a relatively light mystery.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another great read

When a new title comes out in many series, I go back and reread or relisten to the books in the series before moving on to the new title. The Murder in the Locked Library is a fantastic continuation of the Storyton saga. Ellery Adams gives us mystery and adventure and I am again left hanging with high anticipation for the next book to come in the series.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lovely installment in the series!

I loved this book we have been waiting awhile for the next in the series. This did not disappoint. We loved the cliffhanger. My son and I cannot wait for the next one.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Murder in the lot the library good great

I enjoyed murdering in the lot library I enjoyed I just love the books I can't wait till the
Hurry and do it

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Convoluted

Not impressed with either the author or the narrator. I get the feeling that the author was being paid by the page. Way too much information about hairstyles and what was being served for dinner. None of that has anything to do with the plot. The narrator's voice was sing-song and annoying. How do you make one syllable words have two syllables, just listen to a chapter and she'll illustrate.
Fortunately the book ends abruptly, so I was put out of my misery.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Lackluster edition to the series

Looking at the title & description I was expecting a classic locked room murder mystery. That’s not the case. While the death does happen in the library, it’s with others in the room who witness it. Not at all like a locked room murder. On top of that, much of this story felt unrealistic, including a plot twist at the end that was over the top. I just didn’t feel invested in the outcome, While I typically love this series, this book was lackluster in comparison to the others. A lot of the aspects that make it special were left out & too much emphasis was put on the kids, and none on the romance with Edwin.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful