Miss Marple meets
Chinatown in the latest Cece Caruso mystery, CHRISTIETOWN.
Yes, Cece is back, along with her wise-cracking girlfriends,
her semi-charming West Hollywood bungalow (its plumbing is
as unreliable as her former husband), and her uncanny ability
to uncover the hole in any story as quickly as she puts together
the perfect vintage ensemble. Cece once again finds herself
in the midst of a present-day murder case while researching
the life of a mystery writer, but this one’s a doozy;
she’s tackling none other than the grande dame of mystery
novelists, Agatha Christie.
Indeed, Cece’s detective skills are put to the test
as her personal and professional lives strain at the seams.
The forty-year-old Cece is about to become a grandmother for
the first time and a wife for the second. Meanwhile, her latest
labor of love, a biography of Agatha Christie, is posing a
challenge as Cece struggles to uncover the details of a murky
incident in Agatha’s life – a mysterious eleven
day disappearance. To top all of this off, her concerned accountant
has oh-so-helpfully hooked her up with a job moonlighting
as an event planner. The job seems like a perfect fit: she’s
working for Ian Christie, an English housing developer who
lays dubious claim to being a distant relation of Agatha.
He is also in the process of unveiling a new mystery-themed
housing development east of Los Angeles, aptly named Christietown.
As part of the grand opening festivities, Cece decides to
stage an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery tea, complete
with an all-star cast of her closest friends, newest acquaintances,
and her gardener, Javier. But when her leading lady turns
up dead, Cece finds herself starring in a real-life murder
At first, the death appears to be the simple result of heart
failure, but Cece knows all too well that untimely demises
are often not quite as they seem. Sure enough, a closer look
reveals evidence of an obscure poison, Agatha Christie’s
murder-weapon-of choice. Cece is suddenly caught in a confounding
web of shady land developers, marital infidelity, and a second
murder, one that she needs to unravel before she becomes the
third. And all the while, Ceee struggles to uncover of the
dark secrets to Agatha Christie’s painful, doomed marriage,
a mystery which just might hold the answer to the deaths in
An imprint of
Cece Caruso, vintage clothes aficionado and incomparable amateur sleuth, is back in her fourth adventure,
Christietown, this time juggling wedding plans and a theater production she's written for the opening of a new
housing development meant to mimic an Agatha Christie-esque English village. It's a fitting project for Cece,
whose day job is writing about dead mystery writers-she's in the midst of finishing her biography of Christie.
The death of her leading lady disrupts the show and Cece is soon embroiled in the investigation. As always,
Susan Kandel's voice is engaging and full of wit, and her characters are well-drawn. Christietown is not to be
missed-and if you haven't read the three prior books, get them all!
--Tasha Alexander, Book Page
Christietown is something of a return to the clothes conscious Cece of the first two books,
but she's having
some trouble finishing her biography of Christie, bogging down in the puzzling segment of Christie's life that,
in 1926, found her fleeing her marriage and the subject of a week-long manhunt that received extraordinary
media coverage. Eventually, her breakthrough in understanding this facet of Christie's life also leads to a
breakthrough in her understanding of the murders connected with a real estate development, a Christietown
that is attempting to recreate a village from Christie's era in the Mojave desert. This is currently one of my
--Walter Albert, Mystery File
puzzler (after 2006's Shamus in the Green Room) finds
sleuthing biographer and vintage fashion hound Cece Caruso
putting the finishing touches on her account of Agatha Christie's
life. As with previous installments in this stylish series,
Kandel deftly contrasts clever excerpts from Cece's biographies
with her personal dilemmas...
As usual, the
pace is fast, the dialogue witty, and the characters are somewhat
outrageous. Chick-lit mystery doyenne Kandel knows
her way around vintage clothing and female relationships.
Her latest laugh-out-loud caper is recommended for most collections.
What an unexpected
pleasure! Susan Kandel is a treasure.
Her writing is bright, witty and unique. The murder mystery,
while always there in the background, almost takes second
place to all the other threads of the plot, and to the joy
of reading the vivid prose of Susan Kandel as she contrasts excerpts
from Cece's in progress Agatha Christie biography with the
ongoing search for a killer. Christietown follows Shamus in
the Green Room as number four in the series starring this exciting
character, who wears vintage fashion and makes that her
own standard of excellence. Kandel is definitely in a class
of her own.