I picked up a copy of The Northbury Papers for a dollar from a local secondhand bookstore and read it over the weekend--and thoroughly enjoyed it.
For a second book in a series, there were no problems in picking up characters, setting and events. In fact, and strangely, I'm disinclined to go back and read the first book in the series. The heroine, college professor Karen Pelletier, is changing and growing. I'm on that journey, not delving backwards.
There is a whiff of Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters to the story, think Shattered Silk or the character of librarian/romance writer Jacqueline Kirby. But Dobson writes with more angst and less emphasis on humour and a happy ending. Not that she drops the reader into an unhappy ending.
The plot isn't challenging, but it's jammed with happenings and people. The Northbury Papers is a literary cosy mystery, and I'll be reading more by Dobson.