Arsenic and Old Books
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery #6
Berkley Prime Crime
February 3, 2015
Available in: Hardcover
In Athena, Mississippi, librarian Charlie Harris is known for his good nature—and for his Maine coon cat Diesel that he walks on a leash. Charlie returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but taking the plunge into a recent acquisition will have him in over his head…
Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, has donated a set of Civil War-era diaries to the archives of Athena College. The books were recently discovered among the personal effects of an ancestor of Mrs. Long’s husband. The mayor would like Charlie to preserve and to substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy—something that could benefit her son, Beck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate.
Beck’s biggest rival is Jasper Singletary. His Southern roots are as deep as Beck’s, and their families have been bitter enemies since the Civil War. Jasper claims the Long clan has a history of underhanded behavior at the expense of the Singletarys. He’d like to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family’s past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor at the college is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But their interest suddenly turns deadly…
Now Charlie is left with a catalog of questions. The diaries seem worth killing for, and one thing is certain: Charlie will need to be careful, because the more he reads, the closer he could be coming to his final chapter…
Miranda James is the pseudonym of Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian long transplanted to Texas. A mystery fan since the age of ten, he wrote his first novel at the ripe old age of twelve. The only copy of The Mystery of the Willow Key vanished years ago, but since it was highly derivative of the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series, that’s probably a good thing.
A medical librarian for nearly twenty years, Dean has published articles on topics in library science, the history of science/medicine, and mystery fiction. His first book, which he co-wrote with fellow librarian Jean Swanson, was By a Woman’s Hand (Berkley; 1994). Jean and Dean won an Agatha Award for Best Mystery Non-Fiction and were nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for the Edgar for Best Critical-Biographical work for this popular reference book. A second edition followed two years later, and Dean and Jean collaborated on two further projects, Killer Books (Berkley; 1998) and The Dick Francis Companion (Berkley; 2003). In all he has co-authored or co-edited six works of mystery reference and one short story anthology. With Elizabeth Foxwell he wrote The Robert B. Parker Companion (Berkley; 200).
His first novel, Cruel as the Grave (Silver Dagger Mysteries) was published in 2000. Since then he has published eighteen more novels, writing under his own name and the pseudonyms Jimmie Ruth Evans and Honor Hartman. In August 2010 he launched a new series writing as Miranda James. The first book under this name, Murder Past Due (Berkley Prime Crime; $7.99) spent four weeks on the extended New York Times bestseller list for mass market paperbacks. The next book in the series, Classified as Murder (Berkley Prime Crime; $7.99), published in May 2011, also hit the NYT list. The third book, File M for Murder (Berkley Prime Crime; $7.99) is out now. The fourth book, Out of Circulation (Berkley Prime Crime; $7.99) debuted at no. 11 on the bestseller list. Book five, The Silence of the Library (Berkley Prime Crime; $7.99) is just out, and there are more books to come in the series.
Dean lives with two young cats, thousands of books, and thinks frequently about killing people — but only in the pages of fiction.