let's play dead

Title: Let’s Play Dead

Author: Sheila Connolly

Series: Museum Mysteries

Sleuth: Nell Pratt, president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society

Setting: Philadelphia, specifically the (fictitious) children’s museum, Let’s Play

This was an excellent cosy, complete with diva children’s author (she created Harriet the Hedgehog, damn it, show some respect!) who is like the mean-world version of Beatrix Potter. The mystery was solid enough, and the characters were excellent.

I’ve never worked in a museum, but if you’ve ever done volunteer work, or worked at any large public institute with a shoestring budget (libraries come to mind) you’ll recognize many of the issues Nell deals with. Not the murders, I hope, but the other stuff: the struggles to manage staff and funding, and stay relevant to the public, and try to keep an elderly building staggering along while you scrounge up money for repairs. It’s all portrayed really well, enough so that the setting is definitely part of the charm.

This actually sums up so many workplaces it made me groan in sympathy:

“Maybe. There’s always somebody whose nose is out of joint about what’s being done, or what’s not. Look, Nell, you’re in a position to know something about all of this. You’ve worked at several different places, and you know people at others. Isn’t there always some malcontent on the staff, someone who thinks he or she got passed over or isn’t getting enough attention? That kind of thing can fester. Maybe that’s what happened.” (p. 145)

When you put it like that, it’s almost amazing there aren’t more workplace murders.