Friday, September 30, 2016

Murder Among the "Elite"

Leslie Nagel
Random House Alibi September 27, 2016

The upscale small town of Oakwood,Ohio has a very low crime rate but more than its share of gossip and infighting. Charley Carpenter's boutique, Old Hat Vintage Fashions, is her baby and she will do whatever is necessary to succeed. Charley is not one of the "elite" but when her friend, Frankie, suggests that she join the Agathas, a mystery book club run by the richest and most prominent women in town, she jumps at the chance. Charley finds more than a few of the women insufferable but with a local charitable costume event coming up she is looking for a bonanza of orders. Then Oakwood is shocked by two murders of women associated with the Agathas. When an Agathas member is also murdered, Charley recognizes that the methods of the killings correspond with those on the book club's reading list. She is able to persuade Detective Marcus Trenault to use her as an inside informant; much to his chagrin and discomfort.

Charley is a fiercely independent and stubborn young woman with a circle of supportive friends and family. She dropped out of college to look after her father after his series of debilitating strokes and has made a success of her business against steep odds. Detective Trenault and she have had a long and largely antagonistic relationship, despite a mutual attraction. It will be interesting to see the relationship develop in future books. I didn't figure out the perpetrator of the murders, much less the motive until the end. There were so many good suspects and that, I think, was a weakness. The Agathas were not as well defined as Charley's support group and I had difficulty keeping them sorted. Otherwise, The Book Club Murders is a very promising debut.

Thanks to Random House Alibi and NetGalley for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review. 

RATING-3.5 Stars

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