In The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel, Charley Carpenter is one of eight women who form the Agathas Mystery Book Club, meeting every month to dissect murder mysteries written by women. Charley doesn’t particularly care about the other women, except for her best friend, Frankie, but she stays active in its membership because it has proven good for her business, a vintage clothing store named Old Hat. At the current book club meeting, the talk revolves around a murder that happened the previous night, but fun gossip soon turns to horror when Detective Marcus Trenault arrives to break the news to Lindy that her sister, Serena, is the victim. Prodded by Frankie, Charley uses her past history with Marc to get involved in the case. When another woman turns up murdered, Charley pieces together the few details she has heard to conclude that the murders are imitating the murders found in recent books read by the Agathas.
Racing across the street from Old Hat to the Safety Building, Charley insists on seeing Marc, who gets furious that she knows details about the murders that no one else should know. But soon she convinces him and his partner, Paul, that her knowledge comes from books that they had actually found at the crime scenes, with the pages describing the murders dog-eared. Her insight into the murders is clever enough for the police to decide to use Charley as a confidential informant, a position that leads her to find legitimate, useful evidence.
Charley and Marc race to try to find the killer before someone else gets killed. But the list of people aware of the books read by the Agathas is limited to the members of the book club and their closest family and friends, leading to the suspicion that the killer is one of the Agathas, a scary prospect.
This book was a lot of fun to listen to. I appreciated the connection to real mystery books and the creative methods used to tell the story. I enjoyed the clever conclusion. Further, I also appreciated the way the police did not come across as dolts, as happens in so many cozy mysteries. Charley’s connection to the case comes in believably.
My one concern about this book is that it took a while for me to be able to sort out the characters. At the beginning, the characters tended to run together, and I found it a bit confusing.
The book’s audio version is narrated by Dina Pearlman. I really enjoyed her performance, which included great voices for each character. This helped me to distinguish among the characters who confused me in telling them apart. Pearlman does a really excellent job in bringing the book to life. She is now high on my list of top narrators.
The Book Club Murders gave me plenty of enjoyment as I listened to the book. The story kept me enthralled, and despite the fact that the other characters confused me, the characters of Charley and Marc were realistic. I give the book four stars.
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