Jenn McKinlay

Due Or Die

The second book in the Library Lover's Mystery series, 2012

For my dudes, Wyatt and Beckett,

I’m so glad I get to be your mom.

I love you to infinity and back.


Your library is your paradise.


Writing is a very solitary venture. Hours are spent alone, hunched over a keyboard, creating a reality that becomes so absolute it’s hard to remember that it’s actually fiction. To that end, I tend to get lost in my manuscripts while I write them, so I need a talented and reliable crew to help me find my way out. I am fortunate to have such a team in Kate Seaver, my amazing editor; Katherine Pelz, her lovely editorial assistant; and Jessica Faust, my fabulous agent. Thank you, ladies, for always shining the light where I can see it.

Because I do judge books by their covers, I have to give my most awed thanks to Julia Green, the illustrator of this amazing cover, and Rita Frangie, the cover designer. Truly, it is a work of art. Brilliant!

Lastly, I want to acknowledge my family (the McKinlays and the Orfs) and my friends and fans, who have bought the books and shared the books and encouraged me every step of the way. Thank you!




“I could not believe that Lucy agreed to marry Cecil when she was so obviously in love with George,” Violet La Rue declared.

Lindsey Norris glanced up from the lace scarf she was attempting to crochet. What had she been thinking when she thought she could do anything with this cobweb-like yarn? It was maddening.

Violet’s crochet hook was swooping away, row after row, on a lace pillow cover that she was making for her niece, who was getting married in the spring. Violet was using a perle cotton thread that gave the star pattern a subtle luster when it caught the light just right. It was to be the ring bearer’s pillow, and it was sure to be lovely.

“She was expected to marry within her station,” Nancy Peyton said.

Nancy was Lindsey’s landlord and had been teaching her a variety of needlecrafts for almost nine months now. Currently, their crafternoon club was working on crochet projects. It wasn’t going well for Lindsey.

As if sensing her annoyance, Nancy put aside the handbag she was working on and took Lindsey’s mangled sea foam green mohair and cotton cashmere skeins out of her hands and began to fix them. For that alone, Lindsey was pretty sure Nancy was setting herself up for sainthood.

Both women had about twenty years on Lindsey, and she tried not to take it personally that they could manage to have an in-depth discussion about E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View and crochet at the same time.

“Don’t tell me you’ve started already,” Charlene said as she entered the room. “You always do that.”

“That’s because you’re always late,” Violet said.

“No, I’m not,” Charlene argued. She took off her coat and hat and hung them on the rack. She glanced at the three women looking at her. “Am I?”

“Uh, yeah, you are,” Lindsey said.

Charlene huffed out a breath. She was wearing a stunning red turtleneck sweater, which complemented the rich brown hue of her skin, over tailored black corduroys and black boots.

“Well, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time,’” Charlene said as she took the cushy seat beside Lindsey.

“Very clever, but you might want to go for ‘better never than late,’” Violet said. “George Bernard Shaw.”

Lindsey and Nancy glanced between the mother and daughter. Charlene was the image of her mother, Violet; in other words, she was gorgeous, but even more than that, she shared her mother’s formidable intelligence and love of literature.

Violet had been a stage actress in New York in her youth, while Charlene was currently a local newscaster in New Haven, but both women had the ability to command the attention of any room they entered. Lindsey figured it must be in their genetic code.

“Nicely played, Mom.” Charlene laughed and Violet bowed her head in acknowledgment. “But I thought we were discussing E. M. Forster today. What have I missed?”

“Not much,” Nancy said. Her blue eyes twinkled as she added, “Just Violet being testy because Lucy didn’t go off with George right away.”

“Not much of a book if Lucy picked the right man at the start,” Charlene said. She pulled the ripple afghan she was working on out of her project bag. It was the perfect weather to work on a blanket, and hers was coming together nicely in rows of black, gray and country blue.

The small room boasted cushy chairs and a toasty fire in the gas fireplace. Recently, Lindsey had added a couple of short bookshelves where she kept extra copies of crafting books for the club to peruse during meetings.

The lone large window in the room looked out over the town park and offered a picturesque view of the bay beyond. Today the sea was a deep gray, reflecting the steely cold January skies that loomed above.

The crafternoon club met every Thursday in this small room in the Briar Creek Public Library, of which Lindsey was the director, to work on a craft, discuss their latest book and eat. This week it had been Lindsey’s turn to provide the food, so she had baked apple cinnamon muffins, brought a large block of Brie with wheat crackers and made both coffee and tea.

“Who picked the right man at the start?” Beth Stanley asked from the doorway. She was dressed as a giant spider, and the other women watched as she turned sideways to fit her eight limbs, four of which were add-ons suspended by fishing wire from her arms, through the doorway.

“Here let me help you,” Mary Murphy offered as she followed Beth into the room and held the back of Beth’s story time costume so she could wiggle out of it.

“Thanks. I have a new respect for spiders,” Beth said. “I had a heck of a time getting all my legs to go in the right direction while I read Mrs. Spider’s Tea Party to the kids. I whacked poor Lily

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