Twelve Angry Librarians

Author Miranda James On Tour
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Mass Market Paperback
$8.99 US
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On sale Jan 02, 2018 | 288 Pages | 978-0-425-27777-5
The author of the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series is back with more Southern charm and beguiling mystery as Charlie Harris and his cat Diesel must find a killer in a room full of librarians...
 
Charlie is stressed out. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.
 
It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong, and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset...
 
But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library...
One

"But I don't want to do it."

I glared at my administrative assistant and longtime friend, Melba Gilley. "You know how much I hate public speaking. Why can't Forrest Wyatt do it? College presidents do this kind of thing all the time."

"Forrest will be welcoming everyone to open the conference. If you'd actually read the schedule instead of whining like a three-year-old you'd see that." Melba Gilley glared right back at me.

My Maine Coon cat, Diesel, obviously disturbed by the sudden tension between two of his favorite people, started meowing loudly. He butted his head against my leg, and I immediately felt exactly like the three-year-old Melba labeled me. I rubbed the cat's head to reassure him. The meowing slowed and softened in volume.

"Sorry." I sighed as I skimmed the first page of the document Melba had given me a few minutes ago. Surely I wouldn't be expected to give a lengthy speech. "You're right. Forrest is speaking before me, I see. How long do I have to talk?"

"Only two or three minutes," Melba said. "If you look at the times on the schedule, you can see that there's only ten minutes allotted for both you and Forrest."

"He'll probably talk for nine and a half of the ten." I grinned. "So I can have thirty seconds to say 'Welcome to Athena and have a nice time.' That ought to do it."

Diesel warbled as if he agreed with me, and Melba laughed.

"I think you should say more than that."

"We'll see. How many people usually attend this meeting?" I asked.

Melba shrugged. "We hosted it ten years ago, and as I recall, there were about three hundred people. Nowadays with travel budgets being cut, fewer people may attend."

I glanced at the header of the document. "Southern Academic Library Association. I've heard some of the other librarians talk about it." I shrugged. "I had my fill of library meetings from my days in the public library system in Houston. The Texas Library Association Annual Conference is about the largest of its kind in the country, and I went to over twenty of them. I thought I was done with them when I moved back here."

"Stop trying to sound so dang pathetic." Melba cocked her head to the right and frowned at me. I knew that look. No more whining, or she'd get really testy with me.

"Yes, ma'am," I said in a pert tone. Diesel chirped, and Melba's expression relaxed into a grin.

"At least you've only got a couple days to worry about what you're going to say, with everything starting on Thursday."

I forbore to comment. I skimmed through the schedule. After an opening reception Thursday evening, the conference ran from Friday morning through Sunday at noon. I spotted several names I recognized. People I'd gone to library school with nearly thirty years before. We hadn't kept in touch, but I figured it might be interesting to see them again.

Then my eyes lighted on the name of the speaker for the Friday luncheon keynote. Gavin Fong.

Surely there couldn't be two of them, although I hoped there were. The Gavin Fong from library school days had been a jerk, a condescending snot who thought he was intellectually superior to the rest of us. He always talked as if he were slumming by earning a master's degree in library science.

"What's wrong, Charlie?" Melba asked. "You're looking like you stepped in something nasty and can't get it off your shoe."

I laughed. "Great metaphor." I glanced at Gavin Fong's name on the page again. Before I could continue, however, the phone on Melba's desk rang, and she disappeared to answer it.

Moments later my phone buzzed, and I picked up the handset. "Yes?"

"Lisa Krause for you," Melba replied before she transferred the call.

I picked up the receiver. "Good morning, Lisa. What can I do for you?" Lisa was head of the reference department at the library.

After returning my greeting, Lisa said, "I'm sorry about the short notice, but I have to go over to the Farrington House to deal with some last-minute issues about the SALA meeting. I'm chair of the local arrangements committee. I'm not sure how long it's going to take, so I might not be back in time for our meeting at one."

"That's not a problem," I said. "We can always talk later. I'm afraid I haven't paid much attention to the conference and who's doing what."

Lisa chuckled. "You've had far more important things to deal with, and better you than me. I hope you're not still pulling your hair out over the budget mess."

I grimaced, even though she couldn't see me. The budget mess was a legacy from the former director who had failed to keep a tight rein on things, and much of my time since I'd been named interim director had been spent in meetings with the college board and the chief financial officer.

"I have a few stray hairs left," I said. "I hope you can get your problems at the hotel solved more easily."

"If a certain jackass weren't coming to the meeting as a plenary speaker, my job would be a lot easier," Lisa said. I could hear the frustration in her voice.

"Let me guess," I said. "Gavin Fong."

"How did you figure that out?" Lisa asked, obviously surprised. "Do you know him?"

"I did, years ago," I replied. "We went to library school together. I didn't care for him in the least and was happy to see the last of him. He wouldn't deign to work in a public library."

"I think you'd have to look a long time to find someone who does care for him." Lisa giggled. "Everyone in SALA loathes him and has done for years. I can't figure out why on earth the program committee chose him as a featured speaker. He'll just stand there and go on and on for an hour about how wonderful he is and all the innovative things he's into."

"About what I would expect," I said. "What library is he with now?"

Lisa named a school. "It's in Alabama. He's the director."

"I've never heard of it," I said. "I figured he'd be heading one of the big university libraries. You know, dean of libraries, or vice provost of something-or-other by now."

"The way I've heard it, he started at one of the Ivy League schools as some kind of hotshot right out of library school, but after that he moved down the ladder instead of up. And down, and down." Lisa giggled. "Which is why he's at this tiny school in Alabama that nobody's ever heard of."

I had to admit my baser nature found great satisfaction in hearing that. "If that's the best he can do, he must have gotten even more obnoxious than he was when I knew him."

"Obnoxious doesn't even begin to describe him," Lisa said. "I'll have to show you the list of demands he sent. I swear you'd think he was some opera prima donna. He has to have a certain kind of bottled water, and his room has to be kept at a certain temperature, and he can only eat certain foods, and, well, you get the gist."

"What a twit." I laughed. "I'm sorry you're having to deal with this infantile behavior."

"It's only for a few days." Lisa sighed. "Don't be surprised if I don't make it in on Monday, though. I may be under my bed, sucking my thumb and clutching my blankie by the time this is over with."

"Once he gives his speech, I wouldn't pay any more attention to his demands. If he isn't happy, he can go back to Alabama, and good riddance."

"I like the way you think, Charlie." Lisa chuckled. "Well, I'd better get on over to the hotel. Thanks for the encouraging words."

"Good luck."

Melba ambled back into my office right after I hung up the phone. "What was all that about? Lisa sounded in a tizzy when I answered the phone."

I explained, and Melba grimaced. "Sounds to me like somebody needs to take that guy out behind the woodshed and give him a good talking-to. With a horsewhip."

"Are you volunteering?" I asked. Diesel chose that moment to speak up with a loud meow.

"You reckon he's saying he'll help me?" Melba laughed. "If this jerk gets in my way, you'd better bet I'll be telling him what he can do with his bottled water."

"I'd pay good money to see you give him what for," I said. "I hope he's not going to disrupt the whole conference. There's no telling what he might say when he gets up in front of a captive audience of librarians."

"I'll see about having a supply of tar and feathers on hand."

I laughed. "You do that."

The phone rang again, and Melba disappeared to answer it.

Diesel tapped my leg with a large paw, and I rubbed his head. I glanced at the clock on my desk. Nearly noon. Time to head home for lunch. The cat could tell time as well as I could.

"Okay, boy, let me finish this e-mail, and we'll go home."

Diesel chattered at me, a mixture of chirps and trills, and I knew he understood what I had said. He stared at me the whole time I typed at the keyboard, as if he were afraid I would leave without him.

A few minutes later, with Diesel harnessed and on the leash, we ambled down the sidewalk toward home. The late April sunshine bore down, but thanks to the low humidity, the heat was not uncomfortable. Trees shaded our way for the short trip to the house. As we drew close, I spotted a familiar car in the driveway.

"Laura is here," I told Diesel, and he tugged against the leash in his eagerness to get into the house. He adored Laura, and she adored him.

We found her in the kitchen, seated at the table, chatting happily with my housekeeper, Azalea Berry. I unhooked the leash, and Diesel trotted over to my daughter. He put his front paws on her leg and rubbed his head against her belly. She scratched his head and laughed.

I bent to kiss her cheek. "How are you feeling? Ready to have that baby?"

Laura rolled her eyes. "Only six weeks to go, and I am so ready not to be pregnant anymore."

Azalea had her eyes fixed on Diesel as he continued to rub against Laura. "I swear that cat knows you're going to have a baby, Miss Laura. I've never seen the like."

"He's a smart boy." Laura rubbed Diesel's head. The cat responded with a loud meow. "See, he agrees with me."

"He's as anxious to meet the baby as the rest of us." I went to the sink to wash my hands. "Are you having lunch with us, sweetheart?"

"There's plenty," Azalea said.

"I could manage to eat a little." Laura grinned. "I have to keep up my strength, you know." Then she sobered. "Before we eat though, Dad, I have something to tell you. I hope it won't ruin your appetite."

I laid aside the dish towel I had used to dry my hands and came back to the table. My hands on the back of my usual chair, I stared at my daughter, suddenly apprehensive. "What's wrong? Is it something to do with the baby?"

Laura shook her head. "No, Dad, it's not that." She paused, as if gathering her nerve to continue. "You know Frank's been out of town for a couple of days?"

I nodded. Frank Salisbury, Laura's husband, taught in the theater department at Athena College. "He's home again?"

"Yes," Laura said. "We didn't tell you, but he went to Virginia on a job interview."

I suddenly lost my appetite. "And?"

Laura looked upset. "They've offered him the job, and he's thinking seriously about taking it."

Two

My fingers ached from my tight grip on the back of the chair. I let go, pulled the chair out, and sat, all the while staring at my daughter. I tried to form a response, but my brain refused to cooperate.

Laura easily read my thoughts in my expression, however, and her tone turned defensive. "I knew you'd hate the idea, Dad." She paused, and her lower lip trembled. "I'm not crazy about it myself, but it's such a great opportunity for Frank."

I heard the whispers of doubt in my daughter's voice. For her sake, I had to keep calm and try to look at the issue with a clear mind. Diesel sensed my agitation, however, and came over to my chair. He rubbed against my legs and meowed. I stroked his head to reassure him.

When I could speak, I was pleased that my voice didn't wobble. "Tell me about this great opportunity."

Laura looked at me doubtfully, as if surprised at my seeming lack of emotion. "Well, it's a much bigger department with a bigger budget, and the salary is about twenty percent higher than what he earns here. He would have graduate students as well, and he would get to teach theater history courses. He can't do that here, at least not until Professor Thayer retires."

"Those are powerful inducements to taking the job." My heart ached at the thought of my daughter and her husband moving to Virginia not long after the birth of my first grandchild. I had so looked forward to seeing little Charles Franklin Salisbury grow up here in my hometown. I realized that was selfish, though, because Frank had his family and his career to consider, and this opportunity sounded like an excellent one. "What do you think about it?"

"Since I decided to stay at home with the baby for at least the first three years," Laura said, "the increase in salary will help make up for the loss of income." She frowned. "Frank hasn't said anything, but I know he's worried about how we'll manage on his salary alone if we stay here."

"Has he discussed this with his department head here?" I asked. "From what you and Frank have said, she thinks highly of Frank. If she wants to keep him here, maybe she can come up with more money."

"She leans on him a lot," Laura said. "They don't have an extensive budget, though. They have to get grants for most of the productions as it is, and when I quit at the end of this semester, she's not going to be allowed to rehire for my position."

My daughter sounded more upset the longer we discussed the situation. Diesel left me to go to her. She looked down at him and smiled briefly. She stroked his head for a moment, then focused her gaze on me again.
Praise for Twelve Angry Librarians

“Let us now praise the cozy mystery, so comforting on dark days, so warming on chilly nights—the literary equivalent of a cat.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Engaging...James, a Mississippi native, has a real knack for evoking a small Southern town with a strong sense of community.”—Publishers Weekly

“Miranda James has long been a favorite author of mine and this beautifully written book is one to cherish.”—A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery

More Praise for the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks Mysteries

 
“Courtly librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, are an endearing detective duo. Warm, charming, and Southern as the tastiest grits.”—Carolyn Hart, New York Times bestselling author of the Death on Demand Mysteries
 
“Combines a kindhearted librarian hero, family secrets in a sleepy Southern town, and a gentle giant of a cat that will steal your heart.”—Lorna Barrett, New York Times bestselling author of the Booktown Mysteries
 
“Ideal for Christie fans who enjoy a good puzzle.”—Library Journal
 
“[A] pleasing blend of crime and charm.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“James just keeps getting better and better...It's an intelligent read, so well-written that I couldn't stop reading it. Every single time I turned out my light for the night, I found myself thinking about the story, flipping the light switch again and reading just ‘one more chapter.’”—MyShelf.com
Miranda James is the New York Times bestselling author of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries, including Twelve Angry Librarians, No Cats Allowed, and Arsenic and Old Books, as well as the Southern Ladies Mysteries, including Fixing to Die, Digging Up the Dirt, and Dead with the Wind. James lives in Mississippi. Visit the author at catinthestacks.com and facebook.com/mirandajamesauthor. View titles by Miranda James

About

The author of the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series is back with more Southern charm and beguiling mystery as Charlie Harris and his cat Diesel must find a killer in a room full of librarians...
 
Charlie is stressed out. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.
 
It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong, and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset...
 
But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library...

Excerpt

One

"But I don't want to do it."

I glared at my administrative assistant and longtime friend, Melba Gilley. "You know how much I hate public speaking. Why can't Forrest Wyatt do it? College presidents do this kind of thing all the time."

"Forrest will be welcoming everyone to open the conference. If you'd actually read the schedule instead of whining like a three-year-old you'd see that." Melba Gilley glared right back at me.

My Maine Coon cat, Diesel, obviously disturbed by the sudden tension between two of his favorite people, started meowing loudly. He butted his head against my leg, and I immediately felt exactly like the three-year-old Melba labeled me. I rubbed the cat's head to reassure him. The meowing slowed and softened in volume.

"Sorry." I sighed as I skimmed the first page of the document Melba had given me a few minutes ago. Surely I wouldn't be expected to give a lengthy speech. "You're right. Forrest is speaking before me, I see. How long do I have to talk?"

"Only two or three minutes," Melba said. "If you look at the times on the schedule, you can see that there's only ten minutes allotted for both you and Forrest."

"He'll probably talk for nine and a half of the ten." I grinned. "So I can have thirty seconds to say 'Welcome to Athena and have a nice time.' That ought to do it."

Diesel warbled as if he agreed with me, and Melba laughed.

"I think you should say more than that."

"We'll see. How many people usually attend this meeting?" I asked.

Melba shrugged. "We hosted it ten years ago, and as I recall, there were about three hundred people. Nowadays with travel budgets being cut, fewer people may attend."

I glanced at the header of the document. "Southern Academic Library Association. I've heard some of the other librarians talk about it." I shrugged. "I had my fill of library meetings from my days in the public library system in Houston. The Texas Library Association Annual Conference is about the largest of its kind in the country, and I went to over twenty of them. I thought I was done with them when I moved back here."

"Stop trying to sound so dang pathetic." Melba cocked her head to the right and frowned at me. I knew that look. No more whining, or she'd get really testy with me.

"Yes, ma'am," I said in a pert tone. Diesel chirped, and Melba's expression relaxed into a grin.

"At least you've only got a couple days to worry about what you're going to say, with everything starting on Thursday."

I forbore to comment. I skimmed through the schedule. After an opening reception Thursday evening, the conference ran from Friday morning through Sunday at noon. I spotted several names I recognized. People I'd gone to library school with nearly thirty years before. We hadn't kept in touch, but I figured it might be interesting to see them again.

Then my eyes lighted on the name of the speaker for the Friday luncheon keynote. Gavin Fong.

Surely there couldn't be two of them, although I hoped there were. The Gavin Fong from library school days had been a jerk, a condescending snot who thought he was intellectually superior to the rest of us. He always talked as if he were slumming by earning a master's degree in library science.

"What's wrong, Charlie?" Melba asked. "You're looking like you stepped in something nasty and can't get it off your shoe."

I laughed. "Great metaphor." I glanced at Gavin Fong's name on the page again. Before I could continue, however, the phone on Melba's desk rang, and she disappeared to answer it.

Moments later my phone buzzed, and I picked up the handset. "Yes?"

"Lisa Krause for you," Melba replied before she transferred the call.

I picked up the receiver. "Good morning, Lisa. What can I do for you?" Lisa was head of the reference department at the library.

After returning my greeting, Lisa said, "I'm sorry about the short notice, but I have to go over to the Farrington House to deal with some last-minute issues about the SALA meeting. I'm chair of the local arrangements committee. I'm not sure how long it's going to take, so I might not be back in time for our meeting at one."

"That's not a problem," I said. "We can always talk later. I'm afraid I haven't paid much attention to the conference and who's doing what."

Lisa chuckled. "You've had far more important things to deal with, and better you than me. I hope you're not still pulling your hair out over the budget mess."

I grimaced, even though she couldn't see me. The budget mess was a legacy from the former director who had failed to keep a tight rein on things, and much of my time since I'd been named interim director had been spent in meetings with the college board and the chief financial officer.

"I have a few stray hairs left," I said. "I hope you can get your problems at the hotel solved more easily."

"If a certain jackass weren't coming to the meeting as a plenary speaker, my job would be a lot easier," Lisa said. I could hear the frustration in her voice.

"Let me guess," I said. "Gavin Fong."

"How did you figure that out?" Lisa asked, obviously surprised. "Do you know him?"

"I did, years ago," I replied. "We went to library school together. I didn't care for him in the least and was happy to see the last of him. He wouldn't deign to work in a public library."

"I think you'd have to look a long time to find someone who does care for him." Lisa giggled. "Everyone in SALA loathes him and has done for years. I can't figure out why on earth the program committee chose him as a featured speaker. He'll just stand there and go on and on for an hour about how wonderful he is and all the innovative things he's into."

"About what I would expect," I said. "What library is he with now?"

Lisa named a school. "It's in Alabama. He's the director."

"I've never heard of it," I said. "I figured he'd be heading one of the big university libraries. You know, dean of libraries, or vice provost of something-or-other by now."

"The way I've heard it, he started at one of the Ivy League schools as some kind of hotshot right out of library school, but after that he moved down the ladder instead of up. And down, and down." Lisa giggled. "Which is why he's at this tiny school in Alabama that nobody's ever heard of."

I had to admit my baser nature found great satisfaction in hearing that. "If that's the best he can do, he must have gotten even more obnoxious than he was when I knew him."

"Obnoxious doesn't even begin to describe him," Lisa said. "I'll have to show you the list of demands he sent. I swear you'd think he was some opera prima donna. He has to have a certain kind of bottled water, and his room has to be kept at a certain temperature, and he can only eat certain foods, and, well, you get the gist."

"What a twit." I laughed. "I'm sorry you're having to deal with this infantile behavior."

"It's only for a few days." Lisa sighed. "Don't be surprised if I don't make it in on Monday, though. I may be under my bed, sucking my thumb and clutching my blankie by the time this is over with."

"Once he gives his speech, I wouldn't pay any more attention to his demands. If he isn't happy, he can go back to Alabama, and good riddance."

"I like the way you think, Charlie." Lisa chuckled. "Well, I'd better get on over to the hotel. Thanks for the encouraging words."

"Good luck."

Melba ambled back into my office right after I hung up the phone. "What was all that about? Lisa sounded in a tizzy when I answered the phone."

I explained, and Melba grimaced. "Sounds to me like somebody needs to take that guy out behind the woodshed and give him a good talking-to. With a horsewhip."

"Are you volunteering?" I asked. Diesel chose that moment to speak up with a loud meow.

"You reckon he's saying he'll help me?" Melba laughed. "If this jerk gets in my way, you'd better bet I'll be telling him what he can do with his bottled water."

"I'd pay good money to see you give him what for," I said. "I hope he's not going to disrupt the whole conference. There's no telling what he might say when he gets up in front of a captive audience of librarians."

"I'll see about having a supply of tar and feathers on hand."

I laughed. "You do that."

The phone rang again, and Melba disappeared to answer it.

Diesel tapped my leg with a large paw, and I rubbed his head. I glanced at the clock on my desk. Nearly noon. Time to head home for lunch. The cat could tell time as well as I could.

"Okay, boy, let me finish this e-mail, and we'll go home."

Diesel chattered at me, a mixture of chirps and trills, and I knew he understood what I had said. He stared at me the whole time I typed at the keyboard, as if he were afraid I would leave without him.

A few minutes later, with Diesel harnessed and on the leash, we ambled down the sidewalk toward home. The late April sunshine bore down, but thanks to the low humidity, the heat was not uncomfortable. Trees shaded our way for the short trip to the house. As we drew close, I spotted a familiar car in the driveway.

"Laura is here," I told Diesel, and he tugged against the leash in his eagerness to get into the house. He adored Laura, and she adored him.

We found her in the kitchen, seated at the table, chatting happily with my housekeeper, Azalea Berry. I unhooked the leash, and Diesel trotted over to my daughter. He put his front paws on her leg and rubbed his head against her belly. She scratched his head and laughed.

I bent to kiss her cheek. "How are you feeling? Ready to have that baby?"

Laura rolled her eyes. "Only six weeks to go, and I am so ready not to be pregnant anymore."

Azalea had her eyes fixed on Diesel as he continued to rub against Laura. "I swear that cat knows you're going to have a baby, Miss Laura. I've never seen the like."

"He's a smart boy." Laura rubbed Diesel's head. The cat responded with a loud meow. "See, he agrees with me."

"He's as anxious to meet the baby as the rest of us." I went to the sink to wash my hands. "Are you having lunch with us, sweetheart?"

"There's plenty," Azalea said.

"I could manage to eat a little." Laura grinned. "I have to keep up my strength, you know." Then she sobered. "Before we eat though, Dad, I have something to tell you. I hope it won't ruin your appetite."

I laid aside the dish towel I had used to dry my hands and came back to the table. My hands on the back of my usual chair, I stared at my daughter, suddenly apprehensive. "What's wrong? Is it something to do with the baby?"

Laura shook her head. "No, Dad, it's not that." She paused, as if gathering her nerve to continue. "You know Frank's been out of town for a couple of days?"

I nodded. Frank Salisbury, Laura's husband, taught in the theater department at Athena College. "He's home again?"

"Yes," Laura said. "We didn't tell you, but he went to Virginia on a job interview."

I suddenly lost my appetite. "And?"

Laura looked upset. "They've offered him the job, and he's thinking seriously about taking it."

Two

My fingers ached from my tight grip on the back of the chair. I let go, pulled the chair out, and sat, all the while staring at my daughter. I tried to form a response, but my brain refused to cooperate.

Laura easily read my thoughts in my expression, however, and her tone turned defensive. "I knew you'd hate the idea, Dad." She paused, and her lower lip trembled. "I'm not crazy about it myself, but it's such a great opportunity for Frank."

I heard the whispers of doubt in my daughter's voice. For her sake, I had to keep calm and try to look at the issue with a clear mind. Diesel sensed my agitation, however, and came over to my chair. He rubbed against my legs and meowed. I stroked his head to reassure him.

When I could speak, I was pleased that my voice didn't wobble. "Tell me about this great opportunity."

Laura looked at me doubtfully, as if surprised at my seeming lack of emotion. "Well, it's a much bigger department with a bigger budget, and the salary is about twenty percent higher than what he earns here. He would have graduate students as well, and he would get to teach theater history courses. He can't do that here, at least not until Professor Thayer retires."

"Those are powerful inducements to taking the job." My heart ached at the thought of my daughter and her husband moving to Virginia not long after the birth of my first grandchild. I had so looked forward to seeing little Charles Franklin Salisbury grow up here in my hometown. I realized that was selfish, though, because Frank had his family and his career to consider, and this opportunity sounded like an excellent one. "What do you think about it?"

"Since I decided to stay at home with the baby for at least the first three years," Laura said, "the increase in salary will help make up for the loss of income." She frowned. "Frank hasn't said anything, but I know he's worried about how we'll manage on his salary alone if we stay here."

"Has he discussed this with his department head here?" I asked. "From what you and Frank have said, she thinks highly of Frank. If she wants to keep him here, maybe she can come up with more money."

"She leans on him a lot," Laura said. "They don't have an extensive budget, though. They have to get grants for most of the productions as it is, and when I quit at the end of this semester, she's not going to be allowed to rehire for my position."

My daughter sounded more upset the longer we discussed the situation. Diesel left me to go to her. She looked down at him and smiled briefly. She stroked his head for a moment, then focused her gaze on me again.

Reviews

Praise for Twelve Angry Librarians

“Let us now praise the cozy mystery, so comforting on dark days, so warming on chilly nights—the literary equivalent of a cat.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Engaging...James, a Mississippi native, has a real knack for evoking a small Southern town with a strong sense of community.”—Publishers Weekly

“Miranda James has long been a favorite author of mine and this beautifully written book is one to cherish.”—A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery

More Praise for the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks Mysteries

 
“Courtly librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, are an endearing detective duo. Warm, charming, and Southern as the tastiest grits.”—Carolyn Hart, New York Times bestselling author of the Death on Demand Mysteries
 
“Combines a kindhearted librarian hero, family secrets in a sleepy Southern town, and a gentle giant of a cat that will steal your heart.”—Lorna Barrett, New York Times bestselling author of the Booktown Mysteries
 
“Ideal for Christie fans who enjoy a good puzzle.”—Library Journal
 
“[A] pleasing blend of crime and charm.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“James just keeps getting better and better...It's an intelligent read, so well-written that I couldn't stop reading it. Every single time I turned out my light for the night, I found myself thinking about the story, flipping the light switch again and reading just ‘one more chapter.’”—MyShelf.com

Author

Miranda James is the New York Times bestselling author of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries, including Twelve Angry Librarians, No Cats Allowed, and Arsenic and Old Books, as well as the Southern Ladies Mysteries, including Fixing to Die, Digging Up the Dirt, and Dead with the Wind. James lives in Mississippi. Visit the author at catinthestacks.com and facebook.com/mirandajamesauthor. View titles by Miranda James