I thought I knew what I was getting into when I decided to read ‘Death Overdue’ for the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ square inn Halloween Bingo, which needs a book set in New England. I selected it as an antidote to the book I’d originally planned to read, which had left my imagination so gore spattered in the first thirty minutes that I wanted to take a shower.
I expected ‘Death Overdue’ to be the candy and smiling pumpkins version of Halloween rather than the blood and blades type. It’s a cosy mystery set on Halloween in a haunted library in a small town in Connecticut with the librarian playing amateur sleuth.
Unfortunately, from the beginning, the mystery was so cosy that I felt I could have left the book running, gone and made a pot of tea and come back without having missed anything much.
The murder part was OK. A spectacularly public death. A link to a local murder cold case. A rich pool of possible suspects.
The ghost of the librarian was OK. I had little difficulty imagining her hanging around the place she’d given her life to and offering helpful hints to a newly promoted librarian.
My problem was that I couldn’t believe in or care about Carrie, the heroine of the book. She’s a college graduate, about to turn thirty, who has lived and worked in a number of towns and yet she has a child-like view of herself and the world. She has no confidence in her own abilities yet gets insulted when under-estimated. She sets out to solve a murder and confront a killer but lacks the strength to stand up to her overbearing boss. Her relationships with men seem immature and naive.
She seems to be the cosy mystery version of a nice but unthreatening every-woman, someone not too bright, not too confident, not too aggressive but still motivated to try and do the right thing. When I described Carrie’s profile, someone labelled it as Cosy Mystery Heroine Syndrome.
I made it a third of the way through the book and found myself sighing when I realised I had five more hours to listen to Carrie stumble through her life and I knew I wouldn’t make it. So I’m setting this aside and heading to Millers Kill for another mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming.