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 mystery.
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 Christietown.
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 favorite series...
--WALTER ALBERT, MYSTERY FILE
Kandel's entertaining...fourth 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.