Book Review: The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel

September 29, 2016 Leslie Nagel, mystery/suspense, romance 6

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about the book

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 the wealthy elite of Oakwood, Ohio.

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.

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SERIES: Oakwood Mystery #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Alibi
RELEASE DATE: September 27, 2016
PAGES: 224

the-book-club-murders-book-revewThe Book Club Murders intrigued me mainly because – hello – books. And Agatha Christie. And mysteries. So, in short, yes please. Sign me up for this tour!

There is much to enjoy about this debut, though I would classify it less as a cozy mystery and more as a romantic suspense. The mystery is extremely well-crafted and kept me guessing right up until the very end.  We get the best of both worlds with the amateur sleuth as well as police procedural. The romance – whew – the chemistry is through the roof, and the author does a fantastic job creating a tangible electricity between them.  The characters are fun and vivid, and at a certain point you like all of them so much you don’t want the killer to be any of them. And then for a while you like so few of them that you hope the killer is EACH of them lol. I really enjoyed the characters that made up the police department, at least those we encountered in this investigation, and I love Frankie and her husband as my favorite secondary characters. Oakwood, as far as small towns go, is quirky and cute and full of potential for future murders books.

On the flip side, The Book Club Murders is a lot steamier than most cozy mysteries I’ve read – a genre that can be typically trusted to be “clean fiction”.  Prevalent – and strong – profanity also proved disappointing to me in this one; again, not something I am used to finding in a cozy mystery.  The intimate scenes weren’t explicit enough to be offensive, but the language crossed my own personal level of tolerance.

Bottom Line: While The Book Club Murders is a skilled debut full of vibrant characters and an intriguing plot, classifying it as a “cozy mystery” may be a bit of a stretch. It has all the right elements for a fantastic thriller or edgy romantic suspense, but few of the beloved elements common to cozies.  Additionally, I didn’t quite follow some of the lead detective’s motivations – professionally or personally. Be that as it may, Leslie Nagel has great talent and knows exactly how to craft an edge-of-your-seat mystery that will keep readers turning the pages until they’ve read the last word.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

Reviewer’s Note: I addressed this in my review, but I did want to reiterate that there is considerable – and strong – profanity throughout this novel. Additionally, while there are scenes of an intimate nature, they are not graphic or explicit.

My Rating: 3 stars / Great mystery!

KissingBook Level: 4 / keep a fan handy!

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about the author

leslie-nagel

Leslie Nagel is a writer and teacher of writing at a local community college. Her debut novel, “The Book Club Murders”, is the first in the Oakwood Mystery Series. Leslie lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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Carrie

6 Responses to “Book Review: The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel”

  1. DeAnna Dodson

    I know there’s a lot of debate about what is and isn’t supposed to be in a cozy, but I too find it disappointing when a supposed cozy has a lot of bad language or is over-the-top graphic. For me, that’s just not a cozy.

    People can write whatever they like, just call it what it is when you do. 😉

  2. Carole

    I started reading this one today, Carrie. Although I’m not that far in, I’m sure we will think alike. I’ve been having fun discovering new authors in the cozy genre and this looked like a cute mystery. Didn’t think I would like it because of the profanity, but I do, so this might be a difficult review to write.

    • Carrie

      Exactly my dilemma, Carole! I almost had to think of it as two separate books.