ARC Review: The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel (The Oakwood Mystery Series #1)

BookClubMurdersCoverSynopsis from Goodreads:

In a charming cozy mystery series debut, Leslie Nagel’s irrepressible small-town heroine finds that her fellow mystery book club members may be taking their Agatha Christie a bit too literally—and murder a bit too lightly.

Charley Carpenter has poured heart and soul into her clothing store, Old Hat Vintage Fashions. She’ll do anything to make it a success—even join the stuffy Agathas Book Club in order to cultivate customers among Oakwood, Ohio’s wealthy elite.

Although mixing with the most influential women in town has its advantages, Charley finds the endless gossip a high price to pay. But after two women with close ties to the Agathas are brutally murdered, everyone falls under threat—and suspicion. When key evidence indicates that both murders are the work of the same hand, Charley realizes that the killer has arranged each corpse in perfect imitation of crime scenes from the Club’s murder mystery reading list. She uses her membership in the Club to convince Detective Marcus Trenault to use her as an inside informant. Not that he could stop her anyway.

Intelligent, fearless, and every bit as stubborn as Marc is, Charley soon learns the Agathas aren’t the only ones with secrets to protect. Passions explode as she and Marc must race against time to prevent another murder. And if Charley’s not careful, she may find herself becoming the killer’s next plot twist.

Review:

*** Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Alibi for providing me an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!***

The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel was a really fun mystery and is a promising start to a new mystery series. Set in Oakwood, Ohio, The Book Club Murders has a great premise. Murders start happening that mimic those in books read by the Agathas Book Club, a book club that only reads murder mysteries by female authors. I really thought this was a clever premise, and since I love cozy mysteries and I love book clubs, it was nice to read a book that combined the two.

Our main character, Charlotte “Charley” Carpenter, is a likeable, capable heroine. She is clever and speaks her mind, and she’s a bit smarter than your average cozy heroine. Many times the lead gal in cozies will state how she knows she shouldn’t do something, but then she does it anyways. Or she withholds vital information from the police just because. Thankfully, Charley does only a bit of that, for a moment, then thinks better of it and either stops or tells the police.

Besides becoming involved in solving the murders, Charley owns a vintage clothing store, Old Hat Vintage Fashions (such a cute name!). I’m always interested to see if authors actually show their characters working and doing mundane things like cleaning, inventory, and dealing with flaky employees, and this passed the test! Charley actually acted like she ran a business, so this was great.

And of course, as is typical in a cozy mystery, she has a love interest in law enforcement. But, oh!, what a love interest! Marcus “Marc” Trenault, is the detective on the case, and he and Charley have a history. And not the assumed romantic history either, and this was refreshing to read. I especially liked how the relationship between Marc and Charley played out. Marc is a tough guy, and you get a sense that there is more to him than meets the eye, and while he says some stupid things, you can tell he has a heart. I just really liked Marc and Charley. Their attraction felt real and natural, and their tension was appropriate.

In terms of characters, besides the likeable Marc and Charley, you’ve also got Charley’s best friends, Frankie and Dmitri. I really liked both Frankie and Dmitri. Dmitri is a hairdresser that works near Charley, and he was great fun, and I’d especially love to see him in his leather pants. Frankie was full of spark and life, and she was a great sidekick to Charley.

There is a little bit of language and also a small bit of sexual content (nothing too explicit at all). There is the standard blood in a cozy mystery, nothing too graphic. There were some minor issues I had with women’s body shapes being constantly commented on. I get irritated when the skinny women are constantly discussed as being too thin, or wearing ill-fitting clothes, and I also get irritated when larger women are described in disparaging adjectives, and their weight is constantly commented on. Why does weight even need to be brought up?

I also had a bit of an issue with the Agathas all being described not only by their weight, but also by what their husbands did for a living. I get it, the Agathas are a “type”, but I wanted just a bit more of humanity given to them. And honestly, I don’t know that many readers would even notice this, but I did, so feel I need to point it out.

Plot-wise, as I said above, I really enjoyed the premise of the book, with the murders paying homage of sorts to various murder mysteries. It was fun to see other mysteries sprinkled throughout, but, unfortunately, it also does spoil the ending to two Agatha Christie books, The ABC Murders and also And Then There Were None. Since I haven’t yet read either of these mysteries, I’m really bummed that I now know whodunit. Especially since And Then There Were None is a classic. Maybe I’ll forget by the time I read them! I’m hoping. I probably should’ve realized this going in, but I didn’t really think of it.

The other mysteries mentioned are Mallets Aforethought by Sarah Graves, Murder, She Meowed by Rita Mae Brown, Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb, and Rattlesnake Crossing by J.A. Jance. These books aren’t spoiled in terms of whodunit, but they do talk about different murders in those books. I didn’t feel there was anything spoilery about these particular books, none of which I’ve read. I just felt there were spoilers about the two Agatha Christie books.

Bottom Line: Fun start to a new series with smart, likeable characters. Looking forward to future books from Leslie Nagel!

*** Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Alibi for providing me an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!***

Links to The Book Club Murders on Amazon and Goodreads

 


15 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel (The Oakwood Mystery Series #1)

  1. Thoughtful critique and I just might read this one. It is a sad commentary that in our so-called “enlightened age” of females (no, we aren’t there yet!), women are always classified by weight; which is always made to sound so disgusting unless one is thin. Look at our Presidential debate; female weight was even discussed in it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! Yeah, it is really discouraging to see weight brought up so often in life. And so many people do it and don’t even think anything of it!
      This really was a great mystery and the premise was very intriguing!! I hope you enjoy it 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks! 🙂 It is quite the fun book!
      Yeah, you will want to read those Christie classics first, unless you forget things like I do! I’m hoping I’ll forget about the spoilers by the time I get to those mysteries.

      Like

  2. Loved your review! Thank you for the warning, I quite like the sound of this book, but I’d rather read Agatha’s stories first to avoid spoilers 🙂 Also, what’s with the weight? I really don’t like it when it’s used this way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah, probably best to read them first just so you don’t get spoiled. I’m hoping I forget all about the spoilers by the time I get to those books!
      And I dunno about the weight – it was odd, but it also happens far too often in books! But the mystery itself and the characters are great.

      Like

  3. Nice review! This sounds like a fun read. I think when you can relate it to a mega popular series that you like sometimes you find the book more enjoyable. I still haven’t read a Christie book. Is that crazy? I’ve heard so much about them I swear I feel like I’ve read them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I just started reading Christie this year – I’m slowly making my way through the Poirot books and then will tackle the Miss Marple books. I think I’ve just read 4 of them so far. They are good little mysteries – clever and so many authors “borrow” from her books, so they are interesting to read.
      Hercule Poirot is a really great character. It took me a bit to get into his character, but he really is a lot of fun!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I see what you mean! It really irritated me, but I think it may have been just to show that the Agathas (the rich ladies in the book club) are all obsessed with image and making sure their husbands have the “right job”. I’m trying to be a bit open here and really hope that was the reasoning behind it. I don’t recall that happening with the other female characters mentioned. And like I said, I honestly am not sure other readers would pick up on that, but I tend to zero in on those descriptions when I read.

      Liked by 1 person

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