The Christie Caper, the seventh book in Carolyn G. Hart’s Death on Demand series, celebrates the centennial of the birth of the Queen of Mysteries, Agatha Christie. Annie Laurence Darling co-hosts a convention to honor the author, along with Lady Gwendolyn Thompkins, a famous mystery novelist from England.
The week-long convention promises plenty of fun, with an Agatha Christie treasure hunt, screenings of early movies based in her books, panels hosted by numerous mystery authors on numerous topics related to Christie, and a costume ball for people to dress up as their favorite Christie character. But the week’s joy is threatened by a highly spiteful book critic, Neil Bledsoe, who is either directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least three people and the ruined writing careers of several authors and others connected to the book world.
Bledsoe seems determined to destroy the fun of the weekend, bragging about the ways he has destroyed the lives of people in attendance before leaving flyers under each door in the hotel advertising for a new magazine be plans to plans to publish that will essentially do a hatchet job on Agatha Christie. Bledsoe’s actions, including setting up a table to sell subscriptions to his scurrilous magazine, make him plenty of enemies. Thus when someone takes a shot at Death on Demand during a reception attended by Bledsoe at the bookstore and later pushes a large flower planter from the roof, narrowly missing the odious man, there is no shortage of suspects.
The flower planter’s fall is reminiscent of the murder attempt on Lynette Doyle in Death on the Nile. But when the first murder happens, it parallels Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, with the victim’s using the pseudonym James Bentley, the convicted but innocent man in the Hercules Poirot book, and “James Bentley is killed with a sugar hammer, the murder weapon in the Agatha Christie book.
Annie and her husband Max, along with their team of sleuths, made up of Lady Gwendolyn; Henny, Annie’s biggest customer; and Laurel, Annie’s spacy mother-in-law, work hard to do extensive background checks on each potential suspect and hold numerous councils of war. These meetings can get tedious and spend too much time, as well as extraneous information, on these background checks. If it were not for these tedious tiresome and often boring meetings, I would give this otherwise delightful book 5 stars, but these cause me to take a star away from my rating.
The book continues to develop its well rounded characters, but not to the extent of previous books in the series. As in each of the books, Laurel exhibits a topic over which she obsesses, often seemingly unrelated to the book’s theme. In Something Wicked, Laurel spends her time researching unique wedding customs from all over the world. Laurel goes crazy over the saints in Deadly Valentine. And in The Christie Caper, Laurel obsesses over Edgar Allan Poe, credited as the first mystery writer and the man after whom the top mystery writer’s award is named. This unique characterization adds to the enjoyment of reading this book.
The reader of the audio edition, Kate Reading, once again does a fabulous job, continuing to do a terrific job with all the voices of not just the characters in the book but the many mystery characters played by Henny as she assumes the roles of the characters from mysteries while she plays detective.
The book is another fun book from the Death on Demand series and is enjoyable with its 4 stars.