Murder Is a Must

Murder Is a Must by Marty Wingate is the sequel to The Bodies in the Library. As with the first, the mystery is set in a library dedicated to female mystery authors, and the murder is loosely connected to a classic mystery.

In this case, it’s Dorothy L. Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise. I loved the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, and Murder Must Advertise is one of the best, as he’s at his most whimsical in it. The dilettante peer has gone undercover to work at an advertising agency where someone died falling down a spiral staircase. The book is full of snarky wit among the copywriters and attacks on a still new commercial culture. A subplot involving rich layabouts dealing cocaine allows Wimsey yet another identity as a mysterious Harlequin having adventures and car chases. (If I tell you this was first published in 1933, that will all come together, won’t it?)

Murder Is a Must

In the modern book, the curator is hiring an exhibition manager to handle the display of the mystery library’s holdings while dealing with a new boyfriend, her daughter, and a missing, expensive rare book gifted to the library by Sayers. The exhibition preparation details take up a lot of page space that doesn’t have much to do with any mystery and are rather pedestrian. The only connection to the earlier book comes with the actual murder, which is also down a spiral staircase, and the rare book. (The gimmick of this series is that the curator hasn’t actually read mysteries before, so no knowledge of the classics is assumed or necessary on the reader’s part.)

The rest of the book goes much the same, with more emphasis on domestic disagreements and handling exhibition planning than finding the book or solving the murder. I can’t say that I remember much about Murder Is a Must after reading, but it got me to re-read Murder Must Advertise, which I really enjoyed. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)

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