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New mystery hero is one for the books

Correspondent
Author Con Lehane launches lively new mystery series with "Murder at the 42nd Street Library"

'Murder at the 42nd Street Library' By Con Lehane. Minotaur, 320 pages, $25.99

The beautiful and iconic New York Public Library on 42nd Street in Manhattan — with its stone lions in front, multiple levels and history — makes a stimulating setting for the launch of what should be a lively series about librarian Raymond "Ray" Ambler. The series is certainly off to a good start as "Murder at the 42nd Library" is fueled by an energetic plot, an evocative setting one can literally get lost in and realistic characters.

Ray's interest in crime goes beyond his job as head of the library's crime fiction section. His insight has helped the New York police in the past, especially his friend Detective Mike Cosgrove. So Ray is naturally curious when a researcher is murdered in the library and the killer then shoots at Harry Larkin, the head of special collections.

His investigation could fill volumes as Ray learns of a rivalry between the deceased and the arrogant Maximilian Wagner, who is working on a biography of mystery author Nelson Yates. The elderly Yates had left his papers to the library, but not everything in those papers may be literary.

Ray makes a sturdy, believable hero for this new series. A lover of literature, he also has a fractured family he is trying to repair as he deals with his loneliness and his emotions. Lehane will have much to uncover about this likable and complicated character.

An estranged daughter, a much younger wife and anonymous donors add to the well-drawn supporting characters. Add to the mix Ray's growing friendship with fellow librarian Adele Morgan and bartender Brian McNulty, who was the hero of Lehane's earlier three-novel series. Brian's seen-it-all musings, knowledge of New York and insight into the human psyche make a welcomed addition to the novel.

Lehane moves through the library's various floors, from the basement and forgotten stacks to the veranda overlooking Bryant Park. "Murder at the 42nd Street Library" will make readers want to schedule a visit to this archetypal library during their next visit to New York City.

Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at olinecog@aol.com.

Meet the author

Con Lehane will discuss "Murder at the 42nd Street Library" at 2:30 p.m. June 27 at the Palm Beach Gardens Library, 11303 Campus Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, 561- 626-6133; at 5:30 p.m. June 28 at the Lantana Road Branch Library, 4020 Lantana Road, Lake Worth, 561-304-4500; at 10 a.m. June 29 at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library, 14350 Hagen Ranch Road, Delray Beach, 561-894-7500; and at 1 p.m. June 29 at the West Boynton Branch Library, 9451 Jog Road, Boynton Beach, 561-734-5556.

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