It’s no secret that Santa Clara University’s library is a great success. Recently, the library won the university category in the 2017 Excellence in Academic Libraries award sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries and GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO. And while there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy time at the library—from the Archives and Special Collections’ exhibits to the Books of the Quarter to the Literary Cuisine Luncheons and many more—patrons might not have guessed that SCU’s library has some surprises tucked into the shelves. While the library is known as a great source for California history (the Archives and Special Collections is treasure trove of information about the Missions and early California), a search of OSCAR (the library catalogue) reveals nearly 4,000 titles related to California fiction alone.
Among those titles, however, a little sleuthing is required to discover the library houses almost 800 mystery book titles. While the collection was once a featured exhibit, good sleuths now get to inspect the shelves to find the gems of the collection beyond the typical titles available from modern California writers like Sue Grafton, Laurie R. King and Walter Mosley.
After cross-examining the online database, readers might enjoy discovering Bay Area ties like that of Daly City’s Michael Nava whose work The Little Death (published in 1986) begins the seven-book series about Henry Rios, an openly gay Latino criminal defense lawyer working in Los Angeles. Locals might also appreciate being clued in to L.V. Sims’ Death is a Family Affair (1987) about a murder in the Winchester Mystery House or Ron Montana’s Deathcalls (1982) about serial crimes around San Jose.
Meanwhile, fans of the outdoors could dig into Stephen Chalmer’s The Affair of the Gallows Tree (1930), about Forest Ranger Scott Boldrewood in the Santa Pia National Forest. Acts of sabotage and disappearing bodies add suspense in Chalmer’s text, one of nearly 100 titles the prolific newspaperman produced during his lifetime. Modern mystery aficionados might suspect Nevada Barr’s Firestorm (1996) to be more thrilling—it’s the story of Ranger Anna Pigeon investigating murders in California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Of course, a good mystery collection wouldn’t be complete without some obscure texts from famous authors. Although Edgar Rice Burroughs is most known for creating Tarzan, readers might not have guessed he wrote in other genres, including The Girl From Hollywood (1950), a story of drugs and murder in Southern California. Richard Brautigan enjoyed fame for Trout Fishing in America (1967) but the library also carries copies of Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 (1978) and Willard and his Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery (1975). And, then, there are Stephen Humphrey Bogart’s mystery tribute to his famous father—The Remake: As Time Goes By (1997).
These titles are only a small hint of the full collection. Put on your favorite deerstalker hat, head to the library, and pull up a cozy chair—you’ve got (book) spines to crack at the SCU library.