Murder in the Manuscript Room
Libraries are supposed to be a person’s safe haven to seek out information needed for research, projects or to just read something for relaxation. But, Raymond Ambler the head librarian at the 42 Street Library indulges himself in much more than helping the public find the needed resources they need. Richard Wright closes the door of his union office building and went to the loading dock where a car was waiting for him. Getting into the car he had no idea that it would be the last time he ever went anywhere. Who want to take him out and why?
Raymond Ambler and Michael Cosgrove were good friends and Paul Higgins was a cop that would play an important part in this complex novel. Ambler is the curator of the library and when dealing with the upcoming 150-year celebration of the library he is thrown in different directions starting with the custody of his grandson Johnny, whose father, his son is in jail. Lisa Young the grandmother wants Johnny to live with her and has the resources to make it happen. They might have to come to some common ground in order to share custody and allow Johnny the freedom to live where he wants until his father is released from prison.
Paul Higgins donates some vital papers to the branch of the Museum and he worked as an Intelligence officer in the NYPD for over 30 years. Instead of continuing he decided to do as our author did write thriller novels and what he donates has the potential to blow something about someone out of the water and Higgins and his donation has strings attached. Higgins hands over the files to Ambler at the library after kidnapping him outside of McNulty’s his favorite bar and driving him to a desert spot letting readers wonder just what might be held within this cache of papers that would make Higgins resort to devious methods.
Leila Stone is a catalyst in this story and a research assistant in the Manuscripts and Archive Division. Adele Morgan is close to Ambler and for some reason Stone needs an outlet and hide out claiming that she is fearful for her life from her ex-husband. Spending the night with Adele and leaving in the morning no one expected to find her dead in the mystery reading room. What was her real role and who was she really? Investigating more and learning about Stone the author reveals that her ex-husband was Paul Higgins who conveniently disappears but just what was her role in the library? She was watching and investigating someone as an operative working undercover looking into a researcher named Gobi Tabrizi who becomes their prime suspect. But, is it because that he’s a Muslim that they think he’s guilty or did he really kill her but why?
Adele Morgan is close with Ambler and his grandson, Johnny but at times she is impulsive, lacks understanding and seems to fall prey to her own anger without thinking about how she sounds. She throws temper tantrums like a child at times making it hard to convince readers to take her seriously when dealing with the murder and important issues. Ambler is methodical and has his own way of handling the investigation since the body was found in his office. But, learning about Paul and then his disappearance leads Ambler and Cosgrove to look into his associates and figure out if there is a terrorist cell working and the connection to their freelance security chief Brad Campbell who when you meet him seems dapper, at times aloof then warm but definitely a sinister figure.
Ambler is close friends with McNulty and hopes that his father can help him unravel what is happening. Devon Thomas is in the same prison as his son and is mysteriously murdered. The guy is murdered in prison and he wants to find out what happened to him but why? The ex-cop who donated his papers and is on the run might be involved and now two people are dead.
Devon’s brother was a CI or informant doing undercover work and Devon took the rap for him. Leila Stone was the CI monitoring, Gobi Tabrizi and others in the library. He was arrested for the murder and had reason to kill her because she was watching him. Adele thinks he’s innocent and takes an unhealthy interest in this Arab guy when she agrees to do certain things for him that put her in danger and in the thrust of situations that she should have stayed out of. She even attends Leila’s funeral finding out her name is really Susan Brown and befriends someone close to her hoping to learn more.
Staying until midnight going through the boxes and papers of memorabilia Paul Higgins thought worth handing over to him. His life was there and his career in baseball and his discharge papers from the Marines. But, someone calls him and wants to know how he knows her brother and swears he would never kill anyone.
Adele falls prey to Gobi and his group and gets taken several times, shot at and wonders why Ambler might be upset with her and things get dicey as she is walking home in the darkness and a man claimed Gobi sent him to see her but that was a lie? Taking her in a car and not able to orient herself when she gets awake will she get home in one piece and what happens next lets readers know that she is a target but why? Stubborn she won’t let Ambler get her from where they left her in Brooklyn and she can get herself out of the mess herself. Added in Denise his grandson’s nanny gets arrested for smoking pot and her father the detective winds up dealing with an unscrupulous person to get her out of jail time. Blackmail, betrayals, deceits, lies and just whom was Leila/Susan looking into to and what part does Higgins play? Devon Thomas is at the core of the murder in the prison as it is linked to the person who killed Leila. Cosgrove is in deep Dutch and needs Ray to work along with him to find out more about Devon’s killer, who might have killed Leila and when Paul Higgins winds up dead things take an ugly turn.
My favorite character is Johnny who endears readers into their heart and whose kind ways really make him a special kid and when meeting with his dad in prison his reaction is not what you would expect.
As the pieces fall into line they learn that someone higher up is corrupt and that Campbell has his hand in every pot and what role does he play in what is being orchestrated?
The McNulty family has a history with Ray and might help him find the answers he needs. As Cosgrove goes to Texas to meet the young girl who might have some answers about Leila. Things begin falling into place and Adele is asked to watch Johnny while Ambler questions Paul Higgins and is asked to allow him to use his room in order to go through his files. Why did he hide the connection between himself and Leila and why did he deny knowing Devon Thomas? Why did he disappear? Adele gets herself too involved with Brad Campbell and falls prey again to his questioning and learns that Leila was spying on Gobi and what if he’s innocent? Campbell is hiding secrets and Higgins murder will unfold others. Blackmailing Cosgrove ended when his daughter’s hearing was over and the sentence imposed and now able to go after the one person in the force he thought he could trust. Corruption higher up, lies, betrayals and he real killer of Devon Thomas revealed and the CI who ordered the hit still out there. Paul Higgins death was an assassination focusing on the papers he donated to the library and the files were embargoes. Why did Leila die and whom was she trying to protect? What role did Paul really play and why does it seem Campbell is above the law? Will the truth be buried because the killer was powerful? A deal would be made but someone guilty might skate free in order to arrest the mastermind? Author Con Lehane leaves readers wondering if deals like this are made in the real world not just the fiction one. It leaves us wondering if justice was really served. How would this impact on Ambler’s son will he get a new and fairer trial? The ending leaves room for more to come as Raymond Ambler reenters the 42 street Library and hopefully won’t find another dead body anywhere especially another MURDER IN THE MANUSCRIPT ROOM.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine