What could be better to wile away the hours of a trip spanning almost the length of Mississippi than a good murder mystery? I’d saved Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane for just such an occasion.
In good crime novel tradition, amateur sleuth Raymond Ambler, who is NYC’s 42nd Street Library’s curator of crime fiction, sets out to solve the murder of a young woman who may or may not have been the person she claimed to be. Multiple suspects turn up, all with questionable motives for the crime. Could it be the young Islamic scholar doing research in the library, an ex-husband, or a member of a corrupt police department? Is the crime related to another in the upstate prison or maybe to a long-ago murder of a union reformer? Winding through this plot is Ambler’s growing relationship with Adele Morgan, a custody battle for his grandson, and redemption help for the grandson’s babysitter caught with drugs. Adele’s friendship with the murder victim makes her an avid partner in the search for her killer. Her fondness for the grandson makes her a willing ally in the custody fight and enhances her relationship to Raymond.
This book is second in a series and although I had not read the first, enough pertinent items from it were included that I did not feel lost, but I think not so many that readers of the first would feel bored. It also brought closure while hinting at another mystery to come.
The book accomplished its purpose as I lost myself in the streets of New York City while the highway miles flew by to North Mississippi. It brought no new insights on life nor did it teach any grand lessons, but it took away my question of “Are we there yet?”