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Miss Zukas and the Library Murders

(Miss Zukas #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,400 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Meet Miss Zukas . . . the very proper, exceedingly conscientious, and relentlessly curious local librarian of tiny Bellehaven, Washington--and one heck of an amateur sleuth! The Bellehaven police are baffled when a dead body turns up right in the middle of the library's fiction stacks. But Miss Helma Zukas--who never fails to make note of the slightest deviation from the n ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Avon
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,400 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Start your review of Miss Zukas and the Library Murders (Miss Zukas, #1)
I’ve been having a grand time of late reading books about libraries and librarians. This first book in the Miss Zukas series was quite enjoyable and an easy, quick read at the end of a long-feeling week.

The book is chock full of librarian stereotypes—enjoyably so, as the author was a librarian at one point and uses them kindly and fondly. Miss Zukas inhabits an area somewhere between Nancy Drew and Miss Marple. She is no longer so young as Nancy Drew, but still single & overbearingly precise abo
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An entertaining whodunnit with a lovely heroine. Miss Zukas is an impeccable librarian, keeping an impeccable order in her personal life too. Her friendship with Ruth is unlikely but it was fun to read about their "trials and tribulations".
Miss Zukas world is worth escaping into. I will add this series to my other light-reading (slightly-)guilty-pleasure "shelves" together with Janet Evanovich, Genevieve Cogman ("Invisible Library" series), Alexander McCall-Smith (although his "No.1 Ladies' Dete
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I did not foresee giving “Miss Zukas And The Library Murders” two stars. Jo Dereske excels at cultural elements and that lovely feeling of people who knew you as a child. Family and friends often have traits that are not in common but Jo exaggerated contrasting personalities at a forced cardboard-character stretch. Ruth does not need to be slutty. Helma can be detail-oriented, like me but is too picky to enjoy! The most annoying aspect is creating “a thing” out of Ruth’s nickname for her friend. ...more
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: murder-cozys
One of my all-time favorite mystery series!! Miss Helma Zukas's love for order and attention to detail make her a great librarian . . . and a natural for ferreting out the truth in mysteries. The author gives us terrific details about Miss Zukas that help us to really feel that we know this person. For example, Helma hates hot-tubbing (who wants to sit around in warmed over water that other people have been bathing in???) It is an added bonus that this series is set just outside of Seattle with ...more
Elizabeth Olson
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011, mystery
The charms here are the setting (a thinly disguised version of the town where I live), the author's dry humor, and the titular Miss Zukas herself, a stereotypical librarian who rises above caricature, solving a mystery out of sheer need to bring order to the world. First in a series, I plan to read the rest. ...more
Jenn Estepp
Librarian mystery, because why not? I appreciated some of the professional details, but would love it if the main character would take the stick out of her butt. Also, super convoluted mystery aspect is no great shakes.
Patricia E Yarian
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Oh what good, fun this has been to read! And the heroine Helma...what a hoot! She reminds me totally of Aunt Bea of the Mayberry era...did you know that Aunt Bea lived her true life exactly as she portrays in Andy Griifin?! Well, she did..remained the stoic, mannered, aproned, but a little fun, right up to the end on her familian farm in Ohio...but I digress here...I have a habit of doing that hahaha!! So back to Miss Zukas and her library...

I found her friendship with Ruth at first a bit diffic
May 30, 2021 rated it liked it
I do love the cozy detective stories and can't stop reading them. Montabano, 1st ladie's detctvive agency and lately honorary consul Nathan have all my love!

You may wander why not this one. And I tell you, Miss Zukas is hardlyvin her 30ies and I have impression the author tries us to believe she is passed her youth and lives kind of borring life, shower days, bath days, netting on her hair while sleeping....

Even if I will read the sequence I do not think person in her 30ies should be presented
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Dollycas’s Thoughts

Helma Zukas is a no nonsense woman, some would call her uptight, or obsessive compulsive, I call her entrenched in her ways. She does remind me of a few librarians back in the day. Hair in a bun, glasses set perfectly on her nose, clothes that cover and do not enhance her figure. She is only 36 but she is who she is and there is no changing her. She also has a keen attention to detail and that makes her a great amateur sleuth. Her best-friend, Ruth, is the total opposite of He
Patrick Henry
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: adults and YA
These are just fun mysteries to read (there are 8 in the series). Although we catalog as adult, YA readers may enjoy them as well.

Miss Zukas is the main character and is trying to solve a murder that occured in the library in the fiction aisle while the branch was closed.

Miss Zukas is very serious, single, a little social inept, librarian. Her friend Ruth is just the opposite. It's fun to read the interections that the two of them have.
The author is pretty good in decribing places...

This is a "
JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)
This book is okay as far as the mystery, which is why I gave it 2 stars. However, the main character (Miss Zukas) is completely unlikeable. She is a librarian, only 36, but a prissy woman who acts like she is 90. She doesn't like anything about anyone; she makes disparaging remarks about her co-workers, and she can't understand why she is friends with Ruth (supposedly her best friend). These two are SO different, you can't imagine them as even wanting to spend time with each other. The friend is ...more
Denise Spicer
Dec 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Set in a fictional Pacific Northwest small coastal town, librarian Miss Helma Zukas arrives at work one morning to find that police are investigating a murder. A body has been found in the Mo-Ne aisle of the fiction section. Lots of library details and descriptions of beautiful coastal scenery as Miss Zukas, along with her eccentric artist friend Ruth, does some detecting. Handsome Police Chief Gallant adds potential romance to the mix. And the cover is awesome!
Okay, I admit it. If Helma hadn’t been a librarian, I probably would be more willing to continue in this series. I couldn’t get over the fact that—whether she meant to or not—Dereske seems to have played into the typical stereotype for a librarian. Helma has a tidy bun, glasses, fussy mannerisms, and no-nonsense outfits in drab colors. I thought she was elderly until the author let it slip she’s only in her 30s. Call it childish, but I have no interest in the further adventures of Miss Z.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this first book in the Miss Zukas series. I loved Helma (short for Wilhemina) Zukas, the librarian and main character of the series. She was curious about everything (a key ingredient to being a good librarian). On to the next in the series.
Wendy Theriault
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh this is fun!

Miss Zukas and her funky friend Ruth are just plain fun. The portrayal of Miss Zukas as a rather uptight comfortable shoe wearing librarian is both funny and affectionate.

I’m going to read the whole series and look forward to Helma learning to loosen up and enjoy life.
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
For those of us who have worked in public libraries, Jo Dereske has written a most entertaining cozy mystery. Helma Zukas is a wonderful, if compulsive character, and her friend Ruth is the perfect foil.

Actually "Miss Zukas and the Library Murders" is the first title in the twelve book series, which ends with "Farewell Miss Zukas." I originally read most of the titles in paperback years ago and notice that many are now available again if only for Kindle.

Helma Zukas, a very serious and precise pe
Leslie McLean
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this series.

Of course they are an intentional send-up of librarians. I don't get how people can miss the point so thoroughly so much of the time.

And yet they are a loving send-up. Sure, Miss Helma would drive you nuts if you were her friend, just as she drives her best friend, Ruth Winthrop, nuts, but she makes a great character.

And she is everything modern American society tends not to be: honest, modest, hard-working, tactful, observant of boundaries, organized, methodical, calm, tenac
Katharine Kimbriel
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
All right, just to be confusing, I'll say you'll have to check my other review connected to this series. I am ruling the series uneven. I happened to find the first one again and re-read it. Still a nice introduction. But I feel the author's handling of her characters has changed in later books, as if she's forgotten what made them charming.

This was what I really enjoyed about the series. Recommended.
❂ Murder by Death
Apr 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
I'm not sure what to think about this one - it started off with Miss Zukas being so prudish and prim that it wasn't enjoyable to read, but I could see character development as the story progressed. I guess the culprit almost from the beginning, but it was still a great storyline. ...more
Jackson Matthews
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, she's fun alrighty.
Nancy Williams
Jun 15, 2016 added it
Shelves: cozy-s
I quite enjoyed this story about the reluctant librarian...intelligent, no nonsense personality.
Dale Safford
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like the clear chapter titles, instead of just Chapter 1 etc. Because I have already read later books in this series, I guessed pretty early on who the murderer was. But still, it was a gripping story that had me reading for long lengths of time. Miss Zukas is quite the fuddy-duddy here, always correcting everyone and not having much fun in communicating with other people - she gets better in later books. oh, and this book ends abruptly, like it just gets left off in mid-paragraph before the n ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank goodness for Ruth...

who enlivens the book considerably. The protagonist, Miss Helma Zukas, is a most prim and proper librarian, so prim and proper that, at times, the book was boring. She did have her quirks such as never eating anything purple . She is also very sharp.

It is Ruth, so very different than Helma, who adds sparkle. Ruth and Helma would probably not be friends if they hadn’t grown up together. Ruth is flamboyant and drinks too much.

What a pair of unlikely sleuths! Together the
Mark Isaak
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
The characters are stereotypes -- ultra-sensible librarian, flamboyant artist, gallant policeman (in fact, his name is Gallant) -- but they work to get me interested in their actions and fates. The plot reminds me of Nancy Drew (who gets a call-out early in the book); solution to the mystery comes from persistently stumbling forward, followed by resourcefulness to escape when the bad guys come after you, with luck assisting throughout.
Donna Chester
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this fun, quirky series about a librarian who lives in Washington state. I find it hilarious when she talks about herself in third person and is socially awkward (aren’t we all sometimes?) This is a cozy series so don’t expect a lot of gore and violence, but it has good plots. Just my kind of mystery.
C.J. Prince
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Miss Zukas & the Library Murders" by Jo Dereske is a page turning mystery with engaging characters. People of the Northwest will be particularly delighted to try to figure out what parts
of Fairhaven and Bellingham are subtly referenced as background. This is a series so I am off to find the next one.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Although I disagree with some of Miss Zukas's decisions and her attitude that she could solve a murder as well as the police, it was fun to read about a librarian detective. I knew before reading the back that the author was a librarian. Who else would know about Anglo American Cataloging Rules? A fun, light mystery. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first I wasn't sure I woud like this book at all, I didn't like the main character at all in the beginning, but as I continued to read, she grew on me and in the end I enjoyed reading this one very much! ...more
Debra Myers
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! Loved the humor. Would recommend to those who like

mysteries with a warm heart. I liked the friendship of two women that had formed in childhood and stood the test of being polar opposites.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A librarian cozy mystery. I enjoyed this story with the slightly off-kilter sidekick in Ruth. However, I did not identify too much with any of the characters. I would be willing to try #2 to see if the series evolves into people I would find in my everyday world.
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I grew up in rural Michigan, greatly influenced by my Lithuanian roots. I'm one of those tedious people who wanted to write stories as soon as I learned to read, but believed I had to leave Michigan first. In fact, I couldn't wait to shake off that Michigan dust! Curiously, everything I write seems to have a connection to Michigan or my Lithuanian heritage.
I now live in the beautiful foothills of


Other books in the series

Miss Zukas (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Miss Zukas and the Island Murders (Miss Zukas, #2)
  • Miss Zukas and the Stroke of Death (Miss Zukas, #3)
  • Miss Zukas and the Raven's Dance (Miss Zukas, #4)
  • Out of Circulation (Miss Zukas, #5)
  • Final Notice (Miss Zukas, #6)
  • Miss Zukas in Death's Shadow (Miss Zukas, #7)
  • Miss Zukas Shelves the Evidence (Miss Zukas, #8)
  • Bookmarked to Die (Miss Zukas, #9)
  • Catalogue of Death (Miss Zukas, #10)
  • Index to Murder (Miss Zukas, #11)

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