Book: “Silence in the Library” by Katharine Schellman
Publishing Info: Crooked Lane Books, July 2021
Where Did I Get this Book: audiobook from the library
Book Description: Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.
All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.
Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.
Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.
Previously Reviewed: “The Body in the Garden”
Review: Somehow I missed this coming out way back in July! This just goes to show how out of control my TBR list is, since I had been eagerly awaiting a new installment in this series almost since the moment that I finished the last page of the first book. “The Body in the Garden” was such a supreme pleasure to read and a great discovery that my expectations were quite high for this next book. Luckily, those expectations were met in every way!
Fairly recently I found myself complaining about the lack of information given in a book description, but here we have the opposite case! This intro spoils events that don’t happen until almost halfway through the book! I couldn’t believe it (though, luckily, I didn’t read this description until after reading the book, so I wasn’t actually spoiled, but only through sheer laziness on my part). Given how much information (for better or worse) is laid out in the official book description, I won’t waste anyone’s time re-reading my attempts at a summary here.
I was so excited when I saw that this book was out already and that my library had a readily available audiobook copy! I had read the first book as an ebook, but I really enjoyed the story through this medium and the narrator was excellent.
The mystery was another great one. I had a few theories early on, but only one of those turned out to be right, with many more surprises and reveals along the way. It was a clever murder with only a small cast of characters up for suspicion, all of whom had both motives for conducting the murder as well as strong evidence pointing towards their innocence. I also really enjoyed the way the mystery was wrapped up, with cleverness behind both putting the clues together and catching the murderer themselves.
We had two angles on the mystery, as well. One, of course, was our heroine Lily Adler. Alongside her burgeoning mystery-solving career, here, we see her begin to further emerge from her shell of mourning. Rightly, a number of potential love interests and suitors begin to circle, and I enjoyed the exploration of the complicated feelings this new return to non-mourning brought to Lily. Overall, the series has been such an excellent examination of grief and the long journey the loved ones left behind must travel. We also see more adventures from Lily with her taking things into her own hands and putting herself in situations that are unusual for a woman of her station and life. At the same time, all of these choices were still restrained enough to be believable, with the author neatly side-stepping the too-often anachronistic “strong woman” tropes that can pop up when trying to write this sort of character.
We also got to see a few chapters from the perspective of Simon Page, the constable in charge of solving the murder. It was lovely to see him much more respectful and appreciate of Lily, and I really enjoyed seeing his unique take on the murder, as well as the detective work that only he could complete. He was rather unlikable in the first book, but I really enjoyed what we got from him here.
We also had a return of several familiar faces, as well as an introduction of new characters. Lily’s father was all the villain the summary makes him out to be. If anything, he was much, much worse than the typical “disapproving parental figure” that one sees in these stories. I also liked the addition of a young boy who was growing up with autism (or something like this, obviously it was unnamed at the time.) With additions like this, the series continues to do its excellent work at highlighting how you can write a historical novel while also including a diverse cast of characters. It’s very well done.
This was another stand-out mystery novel, and this next go around, I WILL NOT miss the publication date of the next story. Fans of the first book and fans of general historical fiction mysteries are sure to enjoy it.
Rating 9: Excellent all around, a great mystery paired with a diverse cast of characters.