The Book Club Murders (Oakwood Mystery #1)
by Leslie Nagel
published by Alibi
released: September 27, 2016
genre: Adult, Mystery, Cozy
**Received from NetGalley and publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary (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.
My Thoughts: There are two reasons this went down to 3.5 stars. First, I felt lost right from the start. I had to look up the book to make sure it was the first in the series. It felt like I should already know who all the characters were. Especially the members of the Agathas. It could just be me but I had trouble trying to keep them all straight and since they were all very much involved in the murders and the resulting mystery surrounding them, it was confusing.
The second was the ending. This is more of a personal thing but it felt more like an ending for either a stand alone or the last book in a series not the first. After one too many twists, the author made sure to give the characters all HEAs and tell you where they all were as one would if closing out a series. There was nothing there that would lead to book two or make you even feel that there was going to be a book two. If this had been a stand alone I would have been more than okay with this and it wouldn't have bothered me as much.
Fortunately, I really enjoyed the middle 75% of the book. I really liked Charley and her group of friends, Frankie, Dimitri, and Lawrence made this book. Following along as Charley and Frankie (very much against Marc's wishes) tried to solve who would want to kill their "friends". This is the part where not being sure which Agatha was which played a part. I ended up just enjoying the story despite not always knowing who was who.
Overall, while I enjoyed most of the book there were just too many things that added up and made me lower the rating on this one. I did like the main characters and the author's writing style and can see myself giving the second book in this series a try.