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Off the Shelf: 8 Mystery Books about Librarians and Libraries 

Don't judge a book by its cover. 

the back of a man walking down a book aisle in a library
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  • Photo Credit: Redd F / Unsplash

Libraries are magical places. They are filled with more books than you could possibly imagine, covering a wide range of subjects. On top of that, they are places for community and exploration.

Chicago’s flagship library has a free maker lab where people of all ages can learn how to use laser cutters, 3D printers, and so much more. Librarians are also wondrous humans who want to share the world of knowledge with their readers.  

So naturally, libraries and librarians feature in many murder mysteries. Books can hold clues; shelves and shelving carts can hide bodies. Heavy books could be used as murder weapons.

There are so many possibilities for mayhem and mischief.

So in honor of libraries and librarians everywhere, here is a list of eight mystery books featuring these magical places and people. 

Murder in the Manuscript Room

Murder in the Manuscript Room

By Con Lehane

For bibliophiles, the 42nd Street Library (aka the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) is a must-see in New York City. Many people are most likely familiar with the building thanks to the Ghostbusters.

When a dead body shows up in the crime fiction librarian’s office, Raymond Ambler decides he needs to get to the bottom of it. Complicating matters is that his friend Adele may have connections to the victim who may have been undercover as well as the suspected killer.

Can Ambler use his knowledge of crime fiction to solve the crime and find the real killer? This is book two of the five-book 42nd Street Library Mystery Series. 

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

By Eva Jurczyk

Liesl Weiss finds herself in a leadership role in the rare books department of the university when her boss has a stroke.

When she discovers a very important book in their collection is missing, now she has to lead and investigate her own staff to find out who made off with the book.

Suspicion turns to one of her coworkers when they go missing. Is the missing book and missing coworker related or just a coincidence?  

Books Can Be Deceiving (A Library Lover's Mystery Book 1)

Books Can Be Deceiving (A Library Lover's Mystery Book 1)

By Jenn McKinlay

In the first in McKinlay’s Library Lover's Mystery, Lindsey Norris has the perfect job. She and her best friend Beth Stanley work at the Briar Creek Library in Connecticut.

But Stanley’s life gets upended when her boyfriend breaks up with her and appears to have stolen Stanley’s unpublished book to show to an editor. So when her ex is found dead, Stanley is in the police’s spotlight.

Norris has to find out who really killed Stanley’s ex and why?

The fifteenth book in the series, A Merry Little Murder Plot, is out in October 2024

The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

By Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill's The Woman in the Library is one of my favorite reads of 2022. It’s a novel within a novel.

The outer frame of the novel is a series of letters from the friend of the author who is helping her get the details about Boston for the book she is writing.

The inner story is about a woman named Winifred Kincaid who is a visiting Australian writer who has gotten a scholarship to work on her novel in Boston. 

One day she decides to write at the famed Boston Public Library. When the silence is broken by a woman’s scream, Kincaid ends up befriending the three other people at the same table.

But they do find out that a woman has been murdered in the library. As she gets closer to her new friends, things may not be as they seem.

It’s a wonderful story about the writer’s life, friendship, and its perils. 

A Cryptic Clue (A Hunter and Clewe Mystery Book 1)

A Cryptic Clue (A Hunter and Clewe Mystery Book 1)

By Victoria Gilbert

Gilbert has written several series featuring libraries and this is the first book in her newest series Hunter and Clewe.

Cameron “Cam” Clewe needs to find an archivist for his collection of rare books focusing largely on the mystery genre. He finds Jane Hunter, a recently retired university librarian, who is perfect for the job until a dead body is found in Clewe’s library.

With her boss and new job on the line, Clewe and Hunter have to work together to clear his name.

The second book A Killer Clue is due out in September 2024. 

Death Overdue

Death Overdue

By Allison Brook

Here’s a great combination: ghosts and libraries.

Carrie Singleton nearly turns down a new job offer to be the head of programs and events in Clover Ridge. But something (or someone) tells her to take it.

Her first scheduled event is when a former homicide detective named Al Buckley says he has solved a cold case of a library worker who was murdered 15 years ago. But it appears that someone wants to keep that mystery unsolved by poisoning Buckley.

Now Singleton wants to find the killer aided by the ghost of a former librarian.

The eighth book, Booked on Murder, is due out in August 2024. 

The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery Book 1)

The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery Book 1)

By Dorothy St. James

It’s a bibliophile’s worst nightmare: a library with no books.

Trudell Beckett is facing that reality when the town remakes the library into a technology center. Naturally, Beckett can’t let that stand so she creates a secret book room in the basement.

But her secret and her liberty are threatened when the councilman who pushed through the changes is found dead in the library and Beckett is the number one suspect. She and her loyal patrons have to figure out how to keep her secret library and find the real killer.

There are three books in the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series. 

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Book 1)

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Book 1)

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Cemetery of Lost Books is a library dedicated to forgotten books in Barcelona, Spain in 1945.

But when Daniel Sempere is taken there on his 11th birthday, he finds a book by Julian Carax called The Shadow of the Wind. He learns that the book and the author have been forgotten because someone has been destroying all of Carax’s work.

Sempere decides he must find out who is destroying these books by finding out what happened to Julian Carax so many decades ago. 

Featured image: Redd F / Unsplash