On Borrowed Time
(Library Lover’s Mystery #5)
By Jenn McKinlay
Between preparing the library for the holidays and juggling the affections of ex-boyfriend, Captain Mike Sullivan, and her new crush, actor Robbie Vine, Lindsey has her hands full. But the mysterious disappearance of her world-traveling playboy brother takes precedence over all.
Afraid that involving the police could brew trouble for Jack, Lindsey takes matters into her own hands. But as her quest for her brother embroils her in a strange case involving South American business dealings and an enigmatic and exotic woman, it’ll take the help of both her library book club—the crafternooners—and her eager-to-please suitors to keep Jack from ending up in hot water…
I came across the Library Lover’s Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay while browsing in the mystery section of a bookstore. I was looking specifically for some cozy mysteries as I’ve been writing one in my spare time. I am drawn to cozy mysteries set in small town or related in some way to books and this series covers both.
Lindsay Norris is a library director in a small New England town on the water. She juggles her job (complete with an annoying coworker as well as a best friend working at the children’s desk) with her love life (currently a triangle between a local boat captain and a newly transplanted actor) while solving crimes.
The interesting thing about the series is that Lindsay often stumbles into murder investigations, as one does. For example, one time her best friend’s boyfriend was found dead with her friend as the prime suspect. A library volunteer is accused of murdering her husband. A search for pirate booty ends in a murder that has Lindsay’s neighbor a suspect. An actor in a local play containing many of her friends is killed. And in the fifth installment, a mystery man is found dead in the library but Lindsay knows it has something to do with her brother she had left sleeping in that very room. When her brother is kidnapped in front of her, she realizes he is in very deep.
Lindsay is always quick to note she is not a cop and will work with the police. However, McKinlay finds a way in each installment to keep the murder personally tied to Lindsay so she is inclined to pursue lines of inquiry without the police. As I summed up above the murder from each book, I realized this is a strength in the series. Many cozy mysteries rely on nosy protagonists who go where they shouldn’t merely because they want to solve the mystery. Having personal stakes fuels Lindsay in an authentic way. The reader roots for her as she learns something helpful and fears for her safety when the bad guys catch wind of her.
The subplots are also deftly handled. McKinlay doesn’t try to cram too much into a single book. These types of series can go on for some time so a slow burn is the best course. Beth, the best friend, has been single since her boyfriend was murdered in the first book. In On Borrowed Time, Beth complains about needing to start dating again. Lindsay’s brother catches her eye but he’s taken. Time has passed over the five books, at least a year if not more, and it makes sense that Beth wouldn’t jump into a new relationship.
Same with Lindsay’s love life. She started dating Sully the boat captain until he abruptly broke it off after her ex-boyfriend came into town (related to the murder of the week, of course). Lindsay hasn’t been pining for her ex but Sully insisted she need space, which gave room for a handsome actor to pursue Lindsay. In this installment, Sully finally explains the experience in his past which made him end their relationship. Lindsay understands but that doesn’t make her any less wary that he’ll skedaddle again. Throughout the novel both men vie for her attention and the right to protect her, often from herself.
I still find myself rooting for Sully and chose to read a scene toward the end of the book as a hopeful sign. But as always, McKinlay chooses a slow burn over instant gratification. There is no resolution with Lindsay and Sully. As with all good series, there is an ellipsis which has me hooked and waiting for the next book.
To be continued . . .