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
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 271 pgs
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.