The Book Club Murders is the first book in the Oakwood Mystery series by Leslie Nagel. 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.
The Book Club Murders is a solid opening to a cozy mystery series. I will admit that there were a couple times that I felt like there was a previous book out there, but author quickly gave me the character building that I needed to fill in the blanks. I enjoyed the main characters Charley, partly because we share the distaste for schmoozing and dressing up. She is a smart, witty character and I liked her strong friendships with two important secondary characters. I thought the angst between her and Marcus was a odd though it was eventually explained. I still found it not completely understandable- at least in the path it took. I thought the mystery was very well done, as was the danger to Charley and her friends. There were some real surprises along the way and I enjoyed the majority of the ride. It was not perfect, but it has enough going for it that I will be picking up the second installment, The Antique House Murders, which is schedule for release in May of 2017.
The Book Club Murders is the start of what promises to be a fun cozy mystery series. I like the setting and character build up here, and hope the series only gets better from here.