I’m not homeless, it just feels that way. Ever since I was kicked out of the library, I’ve been at loose ends. After all, I stayed here on campus over spring break specifically because Widener Library was going to be open, and I could get some real work done, finally, without any silly interruptions.
I don’t mean people are silly. After all, I love my boyfriend Chris and my friends Trista and Jerry, and Nancy, the departmental secretary without whom the department would simply fail to function. And there is a difference between people and books – I get that, no matter what anyone else might say about e! But the idea of being able to linger in the stacks until closing, here in the middle of everything I need … well, the appeal is obvious, isn’t it? Sure, it’s a tad lonely when I surface to eat, and I can’t forget to spend some time with Esmé. She’s not a cat who will stand being ignored, as you can see from the state of my scarf.
But here I am, out on the cold, wet Cambridge street, when I was hoping to be down at my carrel, two levels below the nastiness that is New England in March. Instead of dealing with all this slush, I was really looking forward to spending time in The Ravages of Umbria. Maybe finally figure out what is threatening Hermetria, the heroine of this great Gothic novel, and whether that mysterious stranger who joins her in the coach is a fiend or a friend …. Or perhaps related to my own, personal spectral visitor, the ghost of my late, great cat, Mr. Grey?
Only then the breach happened. First, the plumbing – aggravated by the horrible snow of this winter and all the repair work going on. And then, the break-ins. With all the students gone – well, almost all – I guess the university was easy pickings and the library itself was a target. So now the library is closed, and I’m out in the cold. Almost like poor old Jeremy. He was a grad student here too, once. Sometimes I worry that I’ll end up like him. Rambling, alone, lost in his books. Homeless, the police say. Which is why they think he’s behind the robberies. Well, that and the fact that they found that rare volume inside his coat, when they picked him up, unconscious in the hole from the plumbing excavation.
Only he couldn’t be homeless. Could he? Because if he were, then how would he have kept that one volume in such good shape? It’s been missing from the library for nearly thirty years. Besides, Jeremy loves books. He wouldn’t have stolen one, not from a library! And even if he’d borrowed it – borrowed and forgot to return it for a few decades – where could he have been hiding it for all these years? Keeping it so safe and dry that even that mysterious printer’s mark hasn’t been damaged at all? If only he’d wake up, maybe we could ask him. That accident couldn’t have been worse timed. At least he’s being taken care of now, and the book … well, that one volume is safe, anyway. And if I can’t get back into the stacks, I might as well see if there are others out there, so poor scholars like me and Jeremy will have a world to go back to. A library we can call home.
Dulcie Schwartz is the heroine of Code Grey, the latest feline-filled academic mystery series that bears her name, from Severn House. Booklist, the review publication of the American Library Association, said of Code Grey, “This unusual and intelligent series continues to surprise, with additional backstory on some of the characters adding layers of interest. Readers will not want Dulcie to finish her dissertation anytime soon.”
About the author
Clea Simon is the author of 19 mysteries in the Theda Krakow, Pru Marlowe pet noir, and Dulcie Schwartz series. A former journalist and nonfiction author, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband and cat. She can be reached at www.cleasimon.com or on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @Clea_Simon.