Summary: This murder mystery takes place among the dusty shelves of a private library. Charlie, a librarian in Athena, Mississippi, is called in to do an inventory of eccentric millionaire James Delacorte’s rare book collection. Although James is a polite and helpful gentleman, his extended family who live with him are the most spiteful and troublesome people you will ever come across. James begins to suspect that a member of his family is stealing from him after he finds the books in his library mixed up and realizes that other books are missing. Charlie needs to finish the inventory as fast as possible so any books can be confirmed stolen. However, Charlie’s job is not as straightforward as he thought it would be. Although he is surrounded by priceless works of literature, the family seems determined to make his stay miserable. A shocking murder drives Charlie to do more than just sort books – he gets drawn into the center of an edge-of-your-seat mystery.
Recommendation: There’s a reason this book is called a “Cat in the Stacks” mystery. Charlie’s cat, Diesel, is a 30 pound Maine Coon whose personality is worth his weight in gold. Charlie brings Diesel everywhere with him on a leash, and Diesel helps with the investigation. Diesel brings personality and comic relief to the book. Don’t be fooled by the cute cover, though. You might be surprised to hear that this doesn’t read like a Young Adult or Children’s book (and it isn’t marketed as one). Along with Diesel, the vibrant characters in Classified as Murder keep the book from becoming drab – a problem that I’ve found in other murder mysteries. Miranda James makes her characters full of personality and very real-life. Charlie’s son, Sean, has a complex personal backstory that is interesting to hear about. Even the less important characters such as Azalea (the sassy housekeeper) and annoying Anita (who works at the library) are realistic and entertaining. Surprisingly, Charlie is the character that I feel that I know the least, even though he is the protagonist. (It’s possible that readers get to know him better throughout the series.) He seems to have no interests other than the library and his cat, and therefore seems like the least well-developed character in the book. This didn’t keep me from enjoying the book overall – I look forward to reading more Cat in the Stacks mysteries!
Favorite Passage: “Anita bestowed on me what was probably meant to be a coy glance but looked more like a constipated bovine attempting to relieve herself. “