Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and humor
Cons: Plot pacing a little uneven but still good
The Bottom Line:
Parallels to modern plot
Plenty of fun here
Loving Homage to Christie is a Fun Series Debut
At some point in my life, I need to go back and read the Golden Age mystery writers. Yes, I have a passing familiarity with Agatha Christie and her two most famous sleuths. However, there are many of her books I’ve never read. One of them gets the homage treatment in Mayhem at the Orient Express. Despite my lack of knowledge about the original, I still enjoyed this debut.
Bea has left her life in
to open a bed and breakfast on South Bass, an island on . Unfortunately, her new life isn’t off to a
great start since she already has running feuds with her two neighbors, Chandra
and Kate. When their latest squabble
lands them in court yet again, the judge sentences them to one year as a weekly
book club. Lake Eire
Their first choice is Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, but all their first disastrous meeting does is make them hungry for orange/peanut chicken from Orient Express - the new Chinese restaurant in town. When they arrive for a late dinner, they find Peter, the owner, dead behind the counter. With events that remind them of the book, will they be able to work together to find the killer?
Any similarities between the Christie classic and the story unfolding in this book are pointed out for the reader – something I was very thankful for. Yes, the ending of the original is spoiled, but I did know that much going into this book. Even so, all the discussion made me want to track down a copy and read Christie, which isn’t a bad thing.
Despite the allusions, the plot of this book is all original. The pacing seemed uneven to me. Part of that was because this book was setting up the series, the characters, and how the book club got started. Even after they find Peter’s body, things could have picked up a little. Still, there are some good clues and twists along the way before we reach a great conclusion.
And the characters? I loved them. While the main trio starts the book fighting, it is nice to see them slowly building a friendship. They are very different women and their personalities are already strong with each contributing something to the story. There is a large cast of supporting characters, and they were strong as well, making it harder to tell who really was the killer.
The book is filled with a nice dose of humor. Sometimes, it’s in Bea’s first person narration as she comments on events. And sometimes, it’s in the exchanges between the characters. There are some clever turns of phrase that are also good for grins. This added a delightful feel to a book I was already enjoying.