Title: The Advice Column Murders: The Oakwood Mystery Series by Leslie Nagel
Genre: Currently # 235 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Traditional Detectives
Publication Date: To be released April 3, 2018 – Happy Publication Day!
Source: Random House Publishing Group-Alibi and NetGalley
Title and Cover: The Advice Column Murders – Attractive, compelling cozy mystery cover
My first introduction to this series, I found the novel on the more serious side of a cozy mystery. As the third in the series, the protagonist is Charley Carpenter who is the owner of a vintage shop she calls Old Hat Vintage Fashions. This is apparently meant to be a standalone, though characters are brought forward from the first two in the series, including the situation with her shop which is now undergoing a major renovation that she will call Old Hat New Beginnings. (This is also my third book in a row in which the female protagonist is a Charley, Charlie, or Charlee–it must be getting popular to call a female protagonist Charley!)
Charley cares for her wheelchair-bound dad in her childhood home in suburban Oakwood. Her new neighbors next door, tenants, keep to themselves, except that the man of the family tends to do a lot of yelling loud enough to wake everyone. It’s an unhappy, blended family with the two oldest children having recently returned. Together, they have five year old twins. As with the genre, an independent sleuth (most commonly a woman) has a history of tangling with dead bodies and provides the local police with her investigative talents.
Fighting delays with her shop refurbishing and lack of sleep, she has turned to a new column in the local paper called “Ask Jackie.” The last column was serious, setting she and her cohorts on edge shortly followed by a scream next door and the discovery of Judith’s adult daughter. Charley had just met her in a brief introduction the day before.
Charley’s sweetie is Detective Marcus Trenault and while he’s been amenable to her help before, this time he’s temporarily out of town. She resolves to stay out of it given the newly assigned detective on the case who does not wish her involvement. That doesn’t last long. The dialogue is down-to-earth and interaction between her dad, his caregiver, and her friends ring naturally.
As with many in the cozy genre, progress is measured as a rehash of the facts and the possible scenarios. Twists and turns, red herrings abound and muddle the main plot as it creates a couple subplots. Everyone is suspect at one time or another as Charley doggedly pursues her theories until they begin to drop into place. The protagonist is well developed in previous installments, so not as thoroughly here. Peripheral characters fare a little better, i.e., Lawrence (and Afiya), but I had a little difficulty connecting with Charley. I liked that she came off as intelligent and intuitive and was capable of holding her own.
You are not supposed to figure out the culprit early on and I must admit that I didn’t, though at some point, only mildly curious, not wholly invested in the whodunit. The conclusion was satisfying, however, and also resolved a couple issues outside the murder mystery. Now, the question of the epilogue–what was that all about? Perhaps setting up the scene for #4? If, then, too long and largely unnecessary.
I was given this ARC download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for fans of intelligent cozy mysteries.
The Author: (From Amazon Author page) Leslie Nagel is the author of the USA Today and Amazon bestselling Oakwood Mystery Series. She lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. In addition to writing about murder, she also teaches writing at a local community college. After the written word, Leslie’s passions include her husband, her son, and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order. ©2018 V Williams