Die For Love, was written by Elizabeth Peters in 1984. The narrator is Grace Conlin, who does a fine job. This is the 3rd book that features Jacqueline Kirby, librarian extraordinaire (and by that I mean, not your stereotypical librarian - and what is that even?) and intrepid sleuth. If you have never met Jacqueline or Jake to her friends (never Jackie), you have missed out. Such a great character. Of course, this is the same author who gave us Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss. And if you don't know those names, well, you should.
In Die For Love, this author gently pokes fun at the romance book industry. And romance conferences as well. Jacqueline is a college librarian, living in Nebraska. She decides that she needs a break and so goes on a search of conferences that she could attend (the tax benefits) that are being held in a place she'd like to visit. She decides to go to New York and the only conference is the Historical Romance Writer's Conference. Jacqueline is not a reader of historical romances (at first) or a writer of same, but what does that matter? She jumps on a flight heading east, along with two of the latest bestsellers in that genre, both written by a Valerie.
When she arrives at the conference, many things are prevalent - gushing women, authors dressed in the manner of their characters, vast amounts of pink, vast amounts of Valeries, Aunt Hattie (the most successful agent with the most successful authors - mostly Valeries), fan club members, protesters who think the books demeaning, a well-known gossip columnist named Dubretta, and someone with murder in their heart. After a bit, Dubretta the columnist is dead, Jacqueline has seen two old acquaintances from her college days, her Nebraska 'gentleman friend' has arrived to surprise her, and she becomes involved in convincing the police, in the form of handsome Lieutenant O'Brien, that Dubretta was murdered and not just a heart attack victim. And did I mention the Valeries?
One thing that Elizabeth Peters was a master of was creating smart, witty, attractive (in unconventional ways) heroines. Each of them is unique, but they all share certain characteristics. And Jacqueline comes with a PURSE. Caps intended. Jacqueline's purse is almost a character of it's own. It's kind of like the bag that Mary Poppins carried - you know, the bottomless treasure trove. The Kirby purse can be used in many helpful ways, such as a defensive weapon or a battering ram and it contains anything you might need - paper bags, silverware, thermos of coffee, notebooks, tissues, raincoats or boots, books - you get the idea.
Naturally, since the book was written in the '80's, it's a bit dated. There is smoking everywhere. Women wear pantyhose (thank goodness we don't have to do that anymore) and dresses and heels. The humor is still good and the early '80's was the heyday of historical romance with those Fabio covers. This book is a good laugh, even 30 years later.
If you have read an Amelia Peabody book and liked it, you might try Jacqueline Kirby. And now, since I've decided to continue enjoying my Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters rereads for some time to come, I'm off to pick out the next one.