A Bit of Literary Library Love
Several of the characters in the Penny Brannigan mystery series are great readers. Amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan loves to curl up with a good mystery. Police procedures are good, but nothing too violent. In Slated for Death, when she couldn’t sleep, the local librarian offered her a nice, boring history of farming practices in the former USSR.
Mrs. Lloyd, a retired postmistress, loves The Lady magazine, and subscribes to it so she won’t miss an issue. And although she occasionally dips into Country Life, she doesn’t read books. Her lodger, Florence Semble, however, is an avid reader, but she chooses not to buy them, preferring to be a regular patron of the Llanelen public library.
Another patron of the local library is Bronwyn Evans, the rector’s wife. She likes Regency romances, and if the story includes a handsome young earl with a smart carriage, so much the better.
But beyond the local public library, two private libraries feature prominently in the Penny Brannigan mystery series. Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By (2013) is set in the beautiful tranquillity of Gladstone’s Library, in Hawarth, North Wales. Founded by four-time British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone in 1894, the library is the only prime ministerial library in Britain. It’s also a residential library, which means visitors can book a room and stay overnight, and it hosts conferences, which was the perfect reason for a group of my characters to gather.
In 2019’s Remembering the Dead, a pivotal scene takes place in the library of Ty Brith Hall, a Welsh country house.
She opened the door and stood aside to allow the others to enter the library. Three walls were lined with dark, built-in shelving filled with books, and the fourth wall, facing the door, was painted a soft, sophisticated shade of sage green with a hint of grey. It featured a fireplace with an ornately carved mantelpiece and surround situated between two large windows overlooking green fields dotted with grazing sheep.
Comfortable-looking chairs and a sofa upholstered in a muted grey-coloured fabric positioned on a worn, patterned burgundy carpet invited visitors to sit and thumb through the selection of magazines on a coffee table or choose a book.
“Those are the original shelves,” Gwennie pointed out. “They were fitted when the house was built.”
One unit of floor-to- ceiling shelves was filled with old books with leather binding in brown, navy blue, and red, their titles printed in gold on the spines, but most of the books were newer—colourful hardbacks and paperbacks. The books looked read and the room looked formal and felt cozy at the same time, with just the right hint of old-book smell.
“What a beautiful room,” exclaimed Penny.
“It is that,” said Gwennie, “except when it’s time for spring cleaning and every book has to be taken down and dusted.”
Although a library, public or private, doesn’t figure in On Deadly Tides, the most recent title in the Penny Brannigan series, the reading theme is woven throughout the series and probably plays as much a role in my characters’ lives as it does in yours!
On Deadly Tides: A Penny Brannigan Mystery
by Elizabeth J. Duncan
About On Deadly Tides
On Deadly Tides: A Penny Brannigan Mystery
11th in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (November 10, 2020)
Kindle ASIN: B084V85BT8
With a picturesque black and white lighthouse, pebble beaches and stunning views of sea and mountains, the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales is the perfect place for an idyllic mid-summer painting holiday.
And watercolour artist, businesswoman, and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan is enjoying the retreat enormously – until she discovers the body of a New Zealand journalist on a secluded beach just as the tide is going out, threatening to take the body with it.
The post mortem reveals the victim died from injuries “consistent with a fall from a great height,” and the death is ruled accidental. But Penny thinks there’s more to the story. Curious how the victim came to such an untimely end at this most inhospitable spot, she uncovers a link to a mysterious disappearance several years earlier.
And as her holiday romance with a wildlife photographer turns to love, she learns some truths about herself, too, that surprise her.
As the winds of change blow through Penny’s own life, she sets sail on a friendly tide for a future she never dreamed possible, in a beautiful place she never imagined.
About Elizabeth J. Duncan
A two-time winner of the Bloody Words (Bony Blithe) Award for Canada’s best light mystery, Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of two series: the Penny Brannigan mysteries set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer Charlotte Fairfax. A former journalist, public relations practioner, and college professor, Elizabeth is a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers. She divides her time between Toronto, Canada and Llandudno, North Wales.
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