January 14, 2016

 "Whispers In The Reading Room"
Shelley Shepherd Gray

Set in Chicago just after the closing of the Chicago World's Fair, "Whispers In The Reading Room" is a page turning historical mystery.  

Lydia Bancroft, who is a librarian, loves her job.  She is in her own world among her beloved friends, which are her books.  

She has noticed a mysterious dark-haired, dark-eyed handsome patron.  He comes to the reading room and immerses himself in reading different books, but he never checks them out to take with him.  Lydia then decides to "save" his current selection for him so when he comes back next time he "conveniently" finds it on the table next to his favorite chair.

While having tea with wither her fiance, Jason Avondale, she finally meets this mysterious stranger as he rescues her from her fiance's violent temper.  This allows them to strike up a fragile friendship.  She then learns that his name is Sebastian Marks and is a very wealthy "gentleman".  But she is shocked when she learns that he is the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club.

Instead of ending their friendship, Lydia insists on visiting his establishment and ends up being suspect in a murder investigation, much to the shock of her mother.  Her mother only wants her to patch things up with Jason Avondale, saying it was Lydia's fault he became angry with her and hurt her.

Lydia must decide who she can trust, who is innocent and if Sebastian Marks - the man so many people fear - is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

This book shows us the shady side of Chicago.  A side where sin and crime runs rampant.  "Whispers In The Reading Room" is a very different from how Shelley Gray usually writes.  Even though I enjoyed this book I would have like it to have a more spiritual application.  One where Sebastian turns from his life of making money off of people's sins and turns to the Lord.  

This book was written during the time of Billy Sunday, so Marks could have heard Sunday street preaching and changed his life.  

I also didn't like all of the references to prostitution.  I guess Shelley Gray felt she had to include it to make it more authentic, but I felt she could have down played it some.  

Read more about the book here.


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