Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review - The Christie Curse

The Christie Curse: A Book Collector Mystery

By: Victoria Abbott
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: March 2013 ISBN: 978-0425255285
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 2013

Jordan Bingham was back in Harrison Falls, New York after receiving her masters. Her “not so law-abiding uncles,” who had raised her, would have welcomed her with open arms and some Kraft macaroni and cheese, but she needed a job. Any job. Vera Van Alst needed someone with her qualifications, but the old bat also let her know that it was a man’s job. Vera was the town’s “most hated citizen,” but if Jordan wanted to strike out on her own she’d have to put up with her. “A play. They are saying she wrote a play,” Vera harped on. “I must have it. I must.” Honestly, the woman was as bonkers as she was mean. Dame Agatha Christie had mysteriously disappeared for eleven days, but had she written a play in such a short period of time?

Obviously Vera was convinced she had and was desperate to acquire the manuscript for her collection. Eddie McRae let it slip that Jordan had a predecessor, one Alexander Fine. Dame Agatha’s mysterious disappearance coupled with Vera’s closed-mouth attitude about Alex was disturbing. Signora Panetone, the cook, crossed herself when Vera coldly claimed he had been “pushed into the path of an oncoming train.” So much for getting any reasonable information out of her employer. Jordan decided to start by asking her dreamy librarian friend, Lance DeWitt where she could find rare book and manuscript dealers. “Where there’s desire,” he warned, “there’s always a dark side. Just be careful Jordan.”

Right. If there even was a manuscript was it worth murdering for? Jordan went to the Antiquarian Book and Paper Fair in Grandville and dropped a few subtle hints with George Beckwith and Karen Smith, two rare book dealers. Maybe one of them would take the bait. She also had a few people to question about the possible whereabouts of Alex’s research materials. Jordan began to formulate a few theories and was certain that Vera Van Alst was “playing games” with her, but why? She was hoping to get some answers when she went to speak to Karen, owner of the “Cozy Corpse” book store, but a “slowly spreading pool of blood” under Karen’s body wasn’t exactly the kind of cozy she had in mind. Had someone killed once for this mysterious manuscript? Would they kill again?

Even Dame Agatha would give a thumbs-up to The Christie Curse. This mystery had a very interesting twist in that there was already one murder victim before Jordan even arrived on the scene. The mysterious manuscript was totally intriguing as Agatha Christie really did disappear for eleven days and in reality there could be one in existence. The cast of characters, from the slightly evil Vera Van Alst, Signora Panetone (who is a whiz with a fry pan) handsome Lance Dewitt, to Detective Fenton Zinger (“One more time, we ask the questions.”) are fascinating. Jordan is an intelligent, solid sleuth who doesn’t get rattled easily. The twists and turns of this cozy mystery will keep even the most ardent mystery buffs guessing!

Quill says: The Christie Curse is the first in a series that has that hot off the press appeal!

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