Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel

This day was stomping on her last nerve, and it wasn't even ten o'clock. ~ opening of The Book Club Murders


The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel
Alibi, 2017
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 271 pgs
Source: NetGalley

I loved The Book Club Murders from the start. It's got a good combination of mystery and romance, all in a cozy setting. Charley Carpenter is the newest member of the Agathas Book Club and a bit of an outsider. The members are the wealthy and elite of Oakwood, Ohio. Charley does love to read, but her ulterior motive in joining the group was to expand notice of her store, Old Hat Vintage Fashions. She's been doing her best to fit in, but often feels more like the square peg trying to fit into the group's round hole. Luckily, one of her best friends is a member of the group and that makes the situation much more bearable.

On her way to a book club meeting one night, Charley is made to take a detour because her usual way is blocked by the police. Someone has been murdered. When the police come knocking on the door of the house where the group is meeting, it all becomes evident that the dead person is someone they know.

Detective Marcus Trenault hasn't seen a murder like this since his days working in the big city. The murder scene is well staged and the evidence scant. The weight of the investigation is on his shoulders as his boss and the mayor demand quick results.

Charley and Marc share a shaky past, one built on animosity. Just the same, their attraction to each other is immediate, although they both make an effort to resist. I was kind of taken surprise by the strength of the romance in The Book Club Murders, but it wasn't at all unwelcome. I thought Charley and Marc were well matched, and I though their story was well played out. Past grievances, misunderstandings, and family loyalty all coming into play.

Even with the strong romance thread, it never felt like the mystery took a backseat to the personal. When another body, clearly staged, is discovered, the pieces begin to come together for Charley, who is reluctant to go to the police. Charley and her friend, Frankie, had already begun nosing around the first murder, concerned that the Oakwood elite would close ranks against the police if questioned, and knowing they would have a better chance at getting answers.

Marc is none too happy with Charley's involvement in the investigation, but he does admire her persistence. When she finally does come to him with her suspicions about how the murders are connected, the staged death scenes taken straight out of the Agatha's reading list, he listens and does not immediately dismiss her. A quality I like in any love interest of the main character.

If I had a problem with this novel, it would be that Charley, as smart as she is, really should have come forward sooner with the information she had--and not just once. She also takes matters into her own hands a few times, doing more than just asking questions. She really needs to think more carefully before she acts. Even with that though, I really enjoyed reading The Book Club Murders. Charley is down to earth and resourceful. Marc is a bit brooding at the beginning, but I appreciate that he takes Charley seriously. He's also pretty smart, even though he and the police always seem one step behind Charley. I just wish she would trust him more to do his job.

The Book Club Murders was a hard novel to put down, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I admit I figured out the whodunit before I got there, but that did not hurt my enjoyment at all. It rarely does. I was just curious to see how everything would fall into place. I look forward to reading more about Charley and Marc in future books in the series.

You can learn more about Leslie Nagel and her books on the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter.


© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

23 comments:

  1. Oooh, sounds fun. I like a cozy mystery now and then -- thanks for this review!

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  2. This sounds good! I don't mind figuring out the mystery ahead of time as long as it's well constructed.

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    1. Kathy - Same here. Sometimes the process is more interesting anyway. :-)

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  3. Well, it features a book club! I don't mind knowing early on who the guilty party is as long as the characters and plot keep me interested. :)

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    1. Jenclair - That alone makes it worth reading. Haha.

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  4. Perhaps a good choice for our book group!! It sounds as though it might be fun.
    Miss Cellany.

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    1. Miss Cellany - I think it would make a fun book club choice!

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  5. I'm so glad to see this review! I have this book and the 2nd book and they both look so good. I can't resist a book club - especially one named Agatha - or a vintage clothes store. I'm so glad you found this a good mystery and a read that was hard to put down! Now I'm really excited to get started!

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    1. Katherine - I am looking forward to reading the second book. I hope you enjoy it just as much when you read it!

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    1. Diana - I am looking forward to the second book. Hopefully I can get to that soon. :-)

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  7. I'm glad to know this book is as fun as the title suggests. Too many times cozy mysteries are too thinly plotted for me to really enjoy them. But this one I'll definitely be checking out of the library. :)

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    1. Lark - I hope you like this one if you read it.

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  8. I do like the sound of this one and it seems like it has been forever since I read a cozy. I am a little surprised by the romance focus but it sounds like it works well.

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    1. Carole - Cozies can be hit and miss for me, but it feels like I've read a few good ones lately. I was surprised at the strong romance focus in this one too--but I didn't mind it at all. I think it might be off-putting to some though.

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  9. I wish I read more cozies. This one sounds like a fun read and like the others, I don't mind figuring the whodunit in the early stage of the book as long as the plot keeps me interested. :)

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    1. Melody - There are just too many books out there we want to read, isn't there?

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  10. Glad you enjoyed this one! It's been too long since I read a cozy.

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  11. I'm not a fan of the cover (it doesn't look very fun), but I love the title and it sounds like a fun read!

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    1. Eustacia - There are cuter cozy covers out there. I did really enjoy this one.

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  12. Thanks for highlighting a new Ohio author for me!

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