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.