In Arsenault’s debut novel, two young lexicographers at Samuelson Company, an esteemed dictionary publisher, find clues to an unsolved murder that seem to be deliberately hidden throughout the citation files. Billy Webb, a new hire with a freshly minted philosophy degree, and his co-worker, Mona Minot, begin to notice the strange citations as they browse through the files. The citations are taken from a 1985 book entitled The Broken Teaglass, but the ISBN number is bogus, and the author cannot be traced.
The Broken Teaglass citations describe a murder and its aftermath. The murder victim was a man found dead in a local park, his throat slashed. The only clue found at the scene was the piece of broken glass that was used as the murder weapon.
Their curiosity piqued, Billy and Mona methodically search the “cit files” for every Broken Teaglass citation they can find. They begin meeting outside of work to compare their findings. The details of the crime begin to take shape as they collect more citations, and they eventually realize that two former Samuelson employees and a current co-worker are somehow involved in the murder. But is the person who committed the crime a murderer or a victim?
The Broken Teaglass has a quirky and interesting premise but moves sluggishly at times. It definitely picks up toward the end, especially once an interesting plot twist is revealed. A dictionary company is a unique setting for a murder mystery, and Arsenault, herself a former lexicographer, gives fascinating insight into that world.
Overall, it is a good read. Mystery buffs and word lovers alike will find much to appreciate about this novel.