Monday, January 27, 2014

The Silence of the Library by Miranda James: Guest Post/Review/Giveaway

The Silence of the Library (Cat in the Stacks Series #5)

Guest Post by Miranda James:

I blame Nancy Drew for my life of crime. Reading it and writing it, that is.

I was ten when I borrowed The Secret of Shadow Ranch from a cousin. It was the first mystery I ever read, and I was hooked. Then, to my delight, I discovered this was only one of a long series of adventures in which Nancy solved mystery after mystery. Just as exciting, I soon found other amateur mystery-solvers: the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden, and many more. By the time I began reading adult mysteries, my love of the amateur detective was completely entrenched.

When I decided I wanted to write a mystery myself, I knew my main character would be an amateur. After all, I’m not a policeman, or a lawyer, or a private detective. But I do have a healthy dose of curiosity about the world around me and the people in it. Charlie Harris, the sleuth in my “Cat in the Stacks” series, is just like me in that respect. He’s also about my age (fiftyish, if you must know), he’s a librarian, he grew up in Mississippi, and he has a Maine coon cat. That’s as far as it goes, however. (I have two cats, by the way, neither of which is a Maine coon. Also, Diesel is much better behaved than my two.)

I wanted to incorporate my knowledge of, and love for, these juvenile series books into one of my own books, and in the new book, The Silence of the Library, I have done so. I created a series character in the mold of Nancy Drew and the other girl detectives and called her Veronica Thane. The author of the series, Electra Barnes Cartwright, was inspired by Mildred Wirt Benson (the first writer, aka “Carolyn Keene”, of the Nancy Drew series, Margaret Sutton, author of the Judy Bolton series, and Julie Campbell Tatham, the original author of Trixie Belden. In fact the book is dedicated to their memories.

The most fun part of writing this book for me was the “excerpts” from the first Veronica Thane book. I reread some of my favorite girl detective stories from the 1930s to get a sense of the style in my head, and off I went. I hope readers will get a kick out of this aspect of the story. Of course, The Silence of the Library includes murder – a subject that usually didn’t come up in the classic juvenile series books. But when you get a number of rabid book collectors together, with hints of a rare and highly collectible volume, something deadly is sure to happen.


About The Silence of the Library:  Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel. He’s returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but a celebrated author’s visit draws an unruly swarm of fanatic mystery buffs…and one devious killer.

It’s National Library Week, and the Athena Public Library is planning an exhibit to honor the centenary of famous novelist Electra Barnes Cartwright—creator of the beloved Veronica Thane series.

Charlie has a soft spot for Cartwright’s girl detective stories (not to mention an extensive collection of her books!). When the author agrees to make a rare public appearance, the news of her whereabouts goes viral overnight, and series devotees and book collectors converge on Athena.

After all, it’s rumored that Cartwright penned Veronica Thane stories that remain under wraps, and one rabid fan will stop at nothing—not even murder—to get hold of the rare books….

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Mochas, Mysteries and Meows Review: This book could easily go on my list of all-time favorite cozies because it is an ode to the girl sleuths that shaped my childhood and turned me into the mystery lover that I am today. One of my greatest memories growing up is devouring the Nancy Drew books in my school library and building a collection of my own with my allowance money scouring flea markets and used book stores.

This is the fifth book in the "Cat in the Stacks" mystery series featuring librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat Diesel. It centers around preparations for National Library Week at the library where Electra Barnes Cartwright, author of the Veronica Thane series, is set to be honored for her centenary. Imagine everyone's shock when it is discovered that the legend is still living and there is rumored to be five previously unpublished Veronica Thane manuscripts! Rabid collectors and fans descend on Athena and exhibit embarrassing behavior in the presence of their idol, and eventually the president of the EBC Fan Club ends up dead.

An added bonus is that there is a "story within a story" as Charlie is re-reading a Veronica Thane book while attempting to solve the murder, and it ends up being the spark that sets him on the right path to catch a killer. This book is pure magic for anyone whose childhood was defined by their love for the famous girl sleuths. It reaffirmed for me why I love this genre so, so much.

About Dean James: Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian, is a librarian and Edgar-nominated author of over twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. His nonfiction has won both the Agatha Award and the prestigious Macavity Award. Writing as Miranda James, he is the New York Times bestselling author of the Cat in the Stacks series, featuring librarian Charlie Harris and his trusty rescue cat Diesel. He is also the author of The Trailer Park Mysteries, writing as Jimmie Ruth Evans and the Bridge Club Mysteries, writing as Honor Hartman. As Dean James, he’s authored The Deep South Mystery Series and The Simon Kirby-Jones Mysteries. He lives in Houston, Texas, with two cats and thousands of books.

Visit for more on Charlie and Diesel!

GIVEAWAY: Did you have a favorite girl sleuth growing up? Tell us about it by noon EST on January 31, and you will be entered to win a copy of The Silence of the Library. U.S. entries only.


  1. Cherry Ames, RN. I read every one the Library had.

  2. I think I read every book from every juvenile mystery series there was. Oh, how I loved them all. Trixie Belden, though, was the heroine I most identified with and that series drew me into its world and I so wanted to be a Bob-White. Looking back, I'm almost surprised I didn't make myself one of their jackets. :)

    michstjame at gmail dot com

  3. Mine was Nancy Drew! I read every one of the books and passed them down to my girls!

  4. That was a silly question to ask since there's only one real answer NANCY DREW. If you want reasonable alternatives there was the Bobbsey Twins and Cherry Ames (depending on your age).

  5. I grew up in Australia and was a huge fan of the Enid Blyton Secret Seven Series.

  6. There were 4 of us girls on the block who loved Nancy Drew. We all tried to get different books in the series and then shared with each other. Such fun memories of 60+ years ago!

  7. I did read Nancy Drew, but I also loved Encyclopedia Brown. He allowed me the chance to try to solve the mystery myself. I loved that! Thanks for the wonderful chance to win! michelle_willms at yahoo dot com.

  8. I read the Cherry Ames nurse books. Most of the time, they were mysteries as much as they were medical stories. I've read one of the Cat in the Stacks books and really enjoyed it. I'd love to win this one.

  9. I enjoyed Nancy Drew. In fact, I thought I'd write my own book one summer. I got one or two sentences on a pad of paper and that was it.
    Gosh, who knew it took talent and work?!

  10. Nancy Drew was my favorite. I read every book in the series. Loved them all. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. When I was growing up in the 1950's I borrowed books from the library and this involved learning about Nancy Drew and this unique individual hooked me immediately. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  12. She had me at Nancy Drew! I'm so diving into this book. Can't believe I haven't read anything by her yet. Great post!

  13. I'm currently reading the book now. I was wondering about the character of EBC and the Veronica Thane books. I wasn't a juvenile reader, so I didn't know if this part of the book was real or not.

    Thanks for the guest post and answering my question.

  14. I borrowed all the Nancy Drew books from a friend. I've loved mysteries ever since then!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  15. I actually didn't read mysteries until I was about 40 and was introduced to cozy mysteries by some ladies at work. So I didn't have a favorite while I was growing up.

  16. My favorite girl sleuth was Nancy Drew. I loved her books. I would receive them as Birthday/Christmas presents or my cousin would borrow me her books . I always loved to read growing up but Nancy Drew books were my favorite.

  17. I really liked Trixie Belden too! She seems to be not as well known as Nancy and the rest, but I liked her every-girl attitude, even with a rich friend named Honey. Of course, I always liked Nancy Drew too, and the young women in Phyllis A. Whitney's young adult mysteries. Thanks!!

  18. the only girl sleuth I knew about while growing up was Nancy Drew, so I guess she was my first favorite.....

    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  19. Harriet the Spy was my girl.
    I'm so glad to have found your site, loved your review!

  20. I loved Nancy Drew when I was growing up and I got my hands on every copy available at the school library whenever possible! I loved this post and your review! I have added this to my must read Cozy List!

  21. Thanks, everyone, for your comments! Glad to see so many fans of the girl sleuths out there!