Murder Mystery at Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Murder Mystery at Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Welcome to Peninsula Community Library’s cozy November WHODUNIT!

In this four part installment series just for fun, your goal is to answer several questions by month’s end. You should submit your answers all at once at the end by November 30 via email to Library Director Vicki Shurly at [email protected] or by dropping them off at Peninsula Community Library (PCL), 2893 Island View Road on the Old Mission Peninsula. (Editor’s Note: I even got to be part of the mystery in an upcoming installment! – jb)

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Everyone with the correct answers will be entered into a drawing for a basket of goodies! In solving the questions, you can use the internet, your knowledge of PCL, or you can even come in and sleuth around the open areas of the library, properly masked of course! Installment One’s question is, WHAT WAS THE WEAPON?

Part One – The Weapon

It was a dark and stormy night – wait! It wasn’t! In fact, it was a balmy 50 degrees and the stars were out. No matter, winter would return, probably in the wee hours of morning, full force with that white wet stuff that some love and others abhor. After all, November in Northern Michigan is not usually a pleasant time.

It had been a strange year, that’s for sure! Pandemics, quarantines, library director lost in the South Seas, library retention pond turning into a lake with its own eco-system, Intro 101 to life via ZOOM, Old Mission roads washing into the lake. Not your usual library fare.

I decided to stay late after everyone else had gone home. You get more work done in less time when you are alone. And who wouldn’t love to be in a library alone?

Bet you want to know a little more about Peninsula Community Library. We are a rural library out on Old Mission Peninsula, a beloved community center amidst the cherry orchards and vineyards. Country roads, idyllic farms, pretty homes, wineries. Peaceful and quiet and views of two bays. The library opened in a lovely new farmhouse style building just a little more than a year ago, but the pandemic forced us to close for three months. Life is still not normal. Not sure we even remember what normal is. No onsite programming, social distancing and learning to recognize patrons by their eyes alone. Coffee bar closed. Fireplace barricaded off. Those toys that kids love packed away for someday. Upholstered seating stacked and covered. Small meeting rooms closed.

I spent an hour reading reviews, running some reports. That doesn’t include the time I spent getting up to check on all those mysterious sounds you hear when you are by yourself in a building at night. No worries, though – I was locked in tight. Sometimes those furnaces make a lot of strange noises and we have three of them. The library isn’t huge, unless you are alone and the only lights are from your computer. Call me strange, but I like to work in the dark. Carol does too. The rest of the staff doesn’t say as much, but I know they think we are a bit odd in that way!

As I clicked “send” on the last document, I heard a loud thud. Heard it several times. I was sure it was nothing. No matter, better go out to investigate. Maybe an animal got in – a field mouse from Bewitched Farm next door. Knocked a book off the shelf perhaps. I peeked out of the workroom. The circ desk was unoccupied – of course it was! Everyone else had gone home. Cruz and Becky had locked things up tight before they left.

The high ceilings loomed above and shadows of the stacks shone down on the carpeted floor. I hit the lights to low. Nothing happened. Hit them again to medium. Nothing happened. Tried high. Nothing. Still, the light of the computer in the workroom still glowed. Certainly not a power outage. Maybe a circuit breaker had flipped. I worked my way in the dark out of the main part of the library, through the foyer, by the front door into the community room that now served as a quarantine space for returned items due to the pandemic. We like to keep our patrons safe.

Lights didn’t work in there either. I heard a shuffling. Felt my way to the back of the long room and turned the knob on the door of the mechanical room. Inside, I couldn’t see a thing – no windows. Worked my way along the wall to the circuit breaker box. Fumbled it open. Too hard to tell what was up, and I was not sure where to find a flashlight. Cathy and Thena like to reorganize frequently. Drives the rest of us crazy! Heaven knows where the flashlights had gone to!

I closed the door and walked slowly back out. As I passed the sink, a strange sight caught my eye. Something large and round was in it. Sink looked messy. Dawn and Amber had been working on a craft bag early that day. They were usually good about cleaning up. Besides, we rarely used that sink since Covid. Never mind. The wind had kicked up. Actually, it had really kicked up. Felt like the temperature may have dropped, too, as the furnaces were coming on full blast.

Better take a look in the stacks before I went home. I made my way into the main library. Mice can do a lot of damage to a book. Still, it was hard to see except for an occasional bit of moonlight coming in here and there between the clouds through the tall windows.

Murder Mystery at Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Murder Mystery at Peninsula Community Library on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

Nothing in the children’s area. I slowly made my way up and down the rows – through JNONFIC and ADULT FICTION. Everything seemed to be in good order. Penny and Sarah always made sure of that. Up and down, snaking around in the semi darkness into ADULT NONFICTION. On the sixth turn, something caught my eye.

Somewhere in the 641’s in the vast span between Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights (641.5 DAH) and What’s New Cupcake? (641.8 TAC), a book lay precariously on its side at the edge of a shelf. Couldn’t make out the whole title – the first word was smeared with something red. How odd! The second word was “Love.” It was by Anne Byrn (641.7 BYR). I had checked out that book many a time. My mind drifted back to the community room sink. Was that what was in the sink? I headed back. There it was. I picked it up. It was smeared red.



A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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