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BEYOND CONFUSION
by Sheila Simonson
Perseverance Press, April 2010
240 pages
$15.95
ISBN: 1564745198


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Few are the mystery readers out there who don't love their local library, and Sheila Simonson was inspired to craft this entertaining yarn when her own library came under financial attack and was closed for a time. In the case of her fictitious librarian Meg McLean, the county library system she runs too is under attack for multiple reasons, not all of them financial.

One of the financial saving graces for the library in the novel is the donation of a farmhouse by a former librarian. Together with the local Native American tribe, McLean plans to use the donation as a new branch library. However, someone vandalizes the site before planning has even gotten under way, and soon the local tribal leader's home is firebombed as well. Then there are attacks on the local bookmobile by a religious group that believes that the library's mission of providing unsavory literature is the work of the devil.

And those are just the attacks from the outside. Among the library staff itself, there's infighting, with the charge being led by McLean's own nemesis, who McLean is trying to kill with kindness. When she turns up dead, fingers begin pointing, and even McLean has to justify her own actions and provide an alibi. Meanwhile, there's plenty of family drama too, among the living and the dead.

It all comes together beautifully in this charming cozy. Sheila Simonson creates characters worth boo-ing and cheering for, many of whose first impressions may be intriguingly misleading to readers.

Best of all, Simonson is able to tie up all the loose ends of the ongoing mystery in a very satisfying finish, while casting a wide net in terms of the themes she takes on while telling her story. Yet she never succumbs to preachiness, and that may be the best news of all.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, July 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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