Do Unto Others (1994)
Novel by Jeff Abbott

Miss Harcher. In the library. With a baseball bat.

Every Cluedo-line has a story. This one is the story of Jordan the Librarian, a man who finds himself inconveniently besieged by murder: He is in charge of the library where the victim was found, he brought into it the baseball bat that killed her, and he just had a major fight with over banning books with Miss Harcher, who put a new and literal meaning into the term "bible-thumper".

The whodunit provides plot and firmness, but the story is actually about Jordan and his family, as well as the small town in Texas where it takes place. The quiet streets, the manners of speech, the way everybody knows almost everything about each other, takes it far away from the hard-boiled streets of Chicago. Even the disgust with the murder is well expressed, a rare thing in a crime novel.

The book is populated with parodies: A fantasy-loving, badly dressed geek kid, a marihuana-smoking Vietnam vet, a carefully modulated black man. However, you get the sense that behind every facade there is a story. Even the murder victim, disliked by everybody for her fanatical surveillance of morality, has a history.

I picked this book up at random, and for once, what looked slightly interesting proved to be a good read. It's a criminal story of the old kind with an environment entirely its own.

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