THE LIBRARIAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE

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Things have been going rather well for the First Edition Society library. With Hayley Burke in charge, the small private collection, once the sole province of its late owner, Lady Georgiana Fowling, has become a regular part of Bath’s literary life. Buoyed by the success of her monthly meet-the-author evenings, Hayley manages to persuade Glynis Woolgar, the society’s stubborn, conservative secretary, to open Middlebank House, the society’s home, to the general public from 1:00 to 5:00 every Wednesday afternoon. Their first Wednesday brings a guest whose interest is both more abstract and more urgent than that expressed by other visitors’ most frequent query: “Is there a tea room?” John Aubrey has come to bask in the atmosphere of the society and its home. After all, as the unacknowledged grandchild of Lady Georgiana, abandoned in Brittany during his grandmama’s sojourn in France, John feels it’s his birthright to connect with his British family. That family, embodied in Charles Henry Dill, whose claim to fame has always been that he’s the last surviving relative of Lady Fowling, feels otherwise, greeting Aubrey’s news with a sock in the kisser. Refereeing between pro-Aubrey and anti-Aubrey factions at Middlebank House is only part of Hayley’s latest challenge. When a murder on the streets of Bath is traced irrefutably to Aubrey’s connection to the society, she feels that she must take an active role in helping the police solve the crime or risk losing the goodwill she’s built up in the community.

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