Kleckner: Library helps readers solve mysteries

Community voice

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 4:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 12:53 p.m. CDT
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Karen Kleckner Keefe

January is a big month for mystery lovers – Sherlock Holmes fans in particular. Jan. 6 was the character’s “birthday,” and the third season of the popular TV series "Sherlock," starring Benedict Cumberbatch, premieres Jan. 19 on PBS.

According to a 2013 survey by Library Journal, mystery books account for about 24.1 percent of library print collections and 20.6 percent of library eBook collections.

Part of the reason these numbers are so high is that mystery readers are voracious. They regularly read every book in a series and are known to devour books in a single day. That adds up. Even buying just one new hardcover a week would cost an avid reader $1,300 a year. It’s easy to see why mystery readers love their libraries!

If you didn’t get around to reading everything you wanted last year, here’s a recap of some of the year’s best whodunits:

• "Hit Me" by Lawrence Block
• "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith (aka, J.K. Rowling)
• "Just One Evil Act" by Elizabeth George
• "Ghostman" by Roger Hobbs
• "Cries of the Lost" by Chris Knopf
• "The Other Child" by Charlotte Link
• "How the Light Gets In" by Louise Penny
• "Visitation Street" by Ivy Pochoda
• "Circle of Shadows" by Imogen Robertson

And, as puzzle-solvers ourselves, librarians see kindred spirits in mystery readers. We never know what question the person coming up to us is going to ask. “How do I make a croquembouche?” “Who else writes like Sue Grafton?” “What are some good hotels in Finland?”

Tracking down answers is the kind of detective work that librarians do best. So, next time you’re in the mood for a mystery or have one that needs to be solved – let the Library lend a hand.

Mystery trivia: Sherlock Holmes exclaimed “Elementary!” a few times and called Watson “my dear,” but nowhere in Conan Doyle’s original works did the great detective say them together.

Karen Kleckner Keefe is executive director of the Hinsdale Public Library.

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