Murder by Definition
by Con Lehane

Crime-fiction librarian Ray Ambler gets more than he bargained for when he acquires the archives of a controversial hardboiled crime author in this contemporary twisty mystery set in New York City.

Hardboiled crime writer Will Ford might be critically acclaimed, but he’s every bit as debauched and disreputable as the ne’er-do-well private eye in his novels. So when Ford offers Raymond Ambler – crime-fiction curator at New York City’s prestigious 42nd Street Library – a collection of his papers, Ambler wonders if the project will be more trouble than it’s worth. Still, the disgraced author is an important talent, and Ambler’s never been afraid of a fight.

Ambler’s ready for the controversy that greets news of the acquisition. He’s not ready, however, for what he finds when he finally receives the papers: a gripping unpublished short story apparently based on a real case, with an explosive author’s note. If it’s true, there’s been a shocking coverup at the heart of the NYPD – and a cop has got away with murder.

If it’s true. Ford’s not talking, and Ambler’s good friend Mike Cosgrove, a veteran NYPD homicide detective, is beyond skeptical. But as the pair investigate, they’re drawn into the sordid underbelly of 1990s New York, packed with renegade cops, thugs and mobsters . . . and they’ll be lucky to come back out alive.

Gritty and fast-paced, this story of police corruption, murder and mayhem is a great choice for fans of traditional mysteries with complex plotting, atmospheric settings and red herrings a plenty!


“Intriguing . . . Those with a taste for noir lite will want to check this out”

Publishers Weekly

“Lots of fun”


“Lehane’s complex follow-up to Murder Off the Page will interest fans of the bleak series and readers who enjoy cold-case stories”

Library Journal

“A conscientious valentine whose librarians come off a lot better than its cops”

Kirkus Reviews

“Fans and new readers will enjoy solving Ambler’s latest puzzle”

Booklist on Murder off the Page

“An apt choice for bibliophiles and those who like a New York City setting”

Booklist on Murder off the Page

“Atmospheric setting . . . Those who love New York City and libraries will be rewarded”

Publishers Weekly on Murder off the Page

“Plot twists and multiple points of view add to a gritty, complex tale that weaves details of library work and references to crime novels throughout the story”

Booklist on Murder in the Manuscript Room

“Intense, thought-provoking”

Library Journal on Murder in the Manuscript Room

“The complicated Ray . . . looks like a promising newcomer in the talented-amateur ranks”

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review of Murder at the 42nd Street Library

Con Lehane

Con Lehane is a mystery writer, living in Washington, DC. He is the author of the 42nd Street Library mysteries, featuring Raymond Ambler, curator of the library’s (fictional) crime fiction collection. He’s also the author of three mysteries featuring New York City bartender Brian McNulty, and has published short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.Over the years, he has been a college professor, union organizer and labor journalist, and has tended bar at two-dozen or so drinking establishments. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing from Columbia University School of the Arts and teaches writing at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

View author page


Murder by Definition by Con Lehane is available in the following formats

Hardback97807278508986th December 2022145 X 225mm240$29.99
Hardback97807278508986th December 2022145 X 225mm240£20.99
Ebook97814483081496th December 2022N/A240$14.99
Ebook97814483081496th December 2022N/A240£12.99
Hardback - Large Print978144831362428th May 2024145 X 250mm320$38.99
Hardback - Large Print978144831362428th March 2024145 X 250mm320£23.99
Paperback978144830815629th August 2023140 X 215mm240$18.99
Paperback978144830815629th June 2023140 X 215mm240£13.99
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The 42nd Street Library Mystery Series