Guest Allison Brook

Edith/Maddie here, happy to welcome Allison Brook back to the blog!

Also known as Marilyn Levinson, Allison’s seventh Haunted Library Mystery released a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the blurb for Overdue or Die: Carrie Singleton has more than her fair share on her plate: her job at the Clover Ridge Library, preparing for her wedding to Dylan Avery, and hoping that the local art gallery doesn’t steal away one of her part-time employees. Her fiancé Dylan accompanies her to the beautiful home of Victor Zalinka—art collector and successful businessman—to select paintings for an art show at the library. While Carrie muses that Victor’s home would be the perfect wedding venue, Dylan spots a forgery among the paintings in Victor’s collection.

Then Martha Mallory is found murdered in her art gallery. With the assistance of Evelyn, the library ghost; the resident cat, Smoky Joe; and the office manager of Dylan’s private investigation company, Carrie comes up with a suspect list long enough to rival the size of an encyclopedia. During her investigation, Carrie stumbles across a terrible truth: Martha’s murder was part of something far bigger and more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. And it all leads back to the art gallery.

Take it away, Marilyn!

My characters are the driving force of my novels and are of prime importance to me. My characters have all sorts of adventures and experiences. Some commit crimes; others solve them. They evoke emotions in my readers. I especially love writing about my characters’ relationships. How they interact with one another reveals their personalities and always advances the plot.

Carrie is a lost soul at the start of DEATH OVERDUE, the first book in the Haunted Library series, and ready to leave Clover Ridge. But when she’s offered the position of head of programs and events at the library, she stays and does a great job. She develops friendships and falls in love, even taking on a temporary position of the town board. In OVERDUE OR DIE, she’s about to be married, that is, if she can ever find the right venue for her wedding.

Carrie and Dylan’s romance develops slowly and has a few bumps along the way. Carrie has to overcome her belief that she’s not capable of forging a long-lasting loving   relationship. But Dylan is steadfast and caring. Wisely, he never tells Carrie she shouldn’t investigate murders. In fact, in the last few books of the series, they solve the mysteries together.

Carrie’s relationships with her parents are more complicated. Growing up, she adored her father but he was rarely home. Her mother is a self-absorbed woman without a maternal bone in her body.  Now divorced and living far from Carrie, first her father and then her mother make an appearance in her grown-up life. How Carrie deals with her childhood memories and incorporates her parents in her present life leads to many surprises, especially when murders are involved.

Carrie’s relationship with Evelyn Havers, the ghost, has many facets. While Evelyn, a former library employee and a life-long resident of Clover Ridge, helps Carrie in her murder investigations, she withholds evidence if her nieces and nephews are involved. Evelyn’s role is to oversee the town’s well being through her relationship with Carrie. She offers Carrie personal advice and sometimes asks Carrie to help someone she was close to when she was alive. By the series’ end, Evelyn considers Carrie the daughter she never had.

I had such fun writing the two budding romances in OVERDUE OR DIE. One involves Susan Roberts, Carrie’s artistic twenty-six year old assistant, and her relationship with an older man. A much older man. Carrie is appalled by the age difference and wants to warn Susan that she’s making a mistake. But Evelyn reminds her that not all romantic relationships are clones of hers and Dylan’s. The second romance has its beginning when Carrie helps a fellow town council member with an urgent problem. One result is Carrie starts to see this person in an entirely different light.

Readers: If you read mysteries, what, if anything, stays with you long after you’ve finished a book? If you write mysteries, what element of writing is your favorite—the investigation, your characters, the setting?

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes traditional and cozy mysteries as well as novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. Death Overdue, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series. 

Her juvenile novel, Rufus and Magic Run Amok, was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice and has recently come out in a new edition. And Don’t Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards. Her YA horror, The Devil’s Pawn, will be out in a new edition in 2024.

Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids and playing with her kittens, Romeo and Juliet.

25 Thoughts

  1. The characters stay with me and are what brings me back to a series. But I will remember a wonderfully plotted mystery with a particularly enjoyable twist or surprise.

  2. If a writer has been able to accomplish it, it all sticks with you. It takes investigation, characters and setting to make the whole story memorable. However, to me it’s the characters that have to take center stage to sell the others. If you don’t fall in love with the characters, possible the main one to love and another to dislike with a whole range in between, then the whole story will fall flat. They are the backbone of the story. Then the investigating is like the meat on the bone. It gives it flavor and has you wanted to see for yourself or come back for more. The setting to me is needed, but not as important to me except to ground you as to where it’s all taking place. That being said, I LOVE that this series partly takes place in a library and that there is a library ghost add more spice to the mixture.

    OVERDUE OR DIE is on my TBR list and can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay,
      Your “division of labor” for a good mystery is well put. All elements need to be present for the book to work.

  3. Edith,
    Thank you so much for having me as The Wickeds’ guest today.
    I watch many streaming mystery series on TV. Of course I remember the main characters as they appear in every episode but discover, if I’m viewing an episode for a second time, realize I’d forgotten the identity of the murderer.

    1. Thanks, Sherry. Yes! There’s so much we can and do include in our books.

  4. Hola Marilyn! When I started to read your comments, the story about Carrie reminded me of a book series I have read and loved. I thought it was strange that it was just too much of a coincidence, so I kept reading until the ghost’s name EVELYN appeared, and I was able to confirm it was your series that I have read. How wonderful. My wife and I have enjoyed the 6 books we own (even in Audible). I was not aware that OVERDUE OR DIE had been published, so I must correct that. I know we will have fun reading more antics at the haunted library. I especially like the fact that Carrie and Dyland investigate together. The feuding amateur sleuth vs. the nasty detective cozies are getting old. It is enough stress to know someone was murdered, and there is a killer out there 🙂 Congratulations on your new book, and may there be many more!!! Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Luis,
      I am delighted that you and your wife have been enjoying the Haunted Library series. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Your characters are wonderful! Congratulations on the new book! When I write, everything stems from the characters. They’re real to me, and I try to set up each story so it could only happen to these people — and only be solved by them.

    1. Thank you so much! I agree that so much of the story comes from our characters. Which is really nice, since plotting can be difficult.

  6. Marilyn, like you, I so love a romance mixed with my mystery–and a romance can’t really work if you’re not cheering for the couple to get together. And for your readers to be cheering for them, they have to know them and care for them. Just a long way to say I agree; character development is what sticks with me after I close the book.
    It looks like this comment will go in as anonymously, so my name is Pamela Ruth Meyer.

    1. Pamela, Thanks for your input. What you say is so true for a romantic couple. Readers have to care about them. As my series advances, my sleuth and her investigator significant other sometimes investigate together.

  7. I love the Haunted Library series. The characters are all so interesting and I love the descriptions of the locale and bookstore.

  8. Congratulations on the new release, Marilyn! While I love writing about setting, in the end, it’s all about the characters. That’s what brings me back to a series. And your characters are wonderful! Cheers!

  9. I had to laugh about you not remembering whodunit. I seldom remember after about a day! Certainly the characters are important, but setting is of great interest to me. I need to really see the story which I can’t do without a clear picture of where the characters are physically. And, I love resident ghosts and libraries.

    1. I agree that setting is important, especially in a cozy mystery. I’m glad you love resident ghosts and libraries!

  10. Both the mystery and setting are very important, but what really sticks with me are the relationships that develop during the course of the story. I look forward to sequels immensely!

  11. Patti, I agree with you re the relationships between my characters and characters in books and movies and TV series. So much fun to see them grow and change over time.

  12. The characters and their pets stay with me the most in a series. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

  13. Congratulations on your new release. I’m looking forward to reading the book. I read a lot of Mysteries and and there a lot of them that I don’t remember the plots or characters. The Haunted Library series is one of my favorites and I definitely remember Smoky Joe, Carrie and Carrie. I look forward to each new book in the series.

  14. I bought it but it is on my TBR list. Hopefully soon! The problem is (good for you) that if I love it, I will put all of my TBRs on hold and buy the rest of the series. My MO.

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