Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: Christietown by Susan Kandel (Cece Caruso #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun story, author tidbits
Cons: Mystery slow at times
The Bottom Line:
An Agatha case
As Cece writes the bio
Who did it this time?

The Murder of Miss Marple

Cece Caruso stars in a series of light mysteries that are a cross between cozy and chick lit. What sets them apart is their great hook. Cece is a mystery author biographer. As she researches each subject, she finds herself caught up in a mystery that would make each author proud.

Cece's latest project is a biography of Agatha Christie. Unfortunately, her publisher seems to think it needs more work. Specifically, Cece is told to beef up the section on Agatha Christie's mysterious disappearance during December of 1926. She has a little over a week to rework that section and get it back.

As if Cece doesn't already have enough on her plate. She's supposed to be planning her wedding to Detective Peter Gambino and a baby shower for her daughter. Her ex-husband and his new fiancee are in town for that last event, causing more conflict in Cece's life. Additionally, she's in charge of the opening day festivities for Christietown.

Christietown is a retirement community based around the works of the famed mystery author. The subdivision resembles a small English town complete with Vicarage and Pub.

Unfortunately, the play doesn't go well when the woman set to play Miss Marple disappears only to turn up murdered by poison. Is someone going too far with the Christie theme? Why was the woman murder?

Now there's a reason I described these as a cross between mystery and chick lit. The sub-plots are as important as the mystery. Yes, it is the main storyline, but with so much else going on, at times it takes a back seat. So if you are looking for a pure mystery, look elsewhere.

Now this isn't to say that the mystery is bad. It's actually quite good with several red herrings that fooled me. And the solution was one that had crossed my mind a couple times over the course of the book.

The glue holding the book together is Cece. She's smart, witty, and completely likable. I enjoy spending time with her no matter what the occasion. Peter has a greater presence in this book, and his character is great as well. And it was very interesting to finally meet Cece's ex who has only been mentioned in previous books. There are plenty of other new characters who came to life for me.

Scattered throughout the book are some short chapters that give one theory on Agatha Christie's famous disappearance. They are more serious then the normal witty writing style of the series. However, they don't intrude on the story but give an interesting explanation for what could have happened.

This series combines interesting tidbits about famous authors with fun mysteries. Christietown may be light, but it is certainly enjoyable.

And you'll want to read all of Cece Caruso's Mysteries in order.

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