Amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter discovers a coded journal that could crack her small town’s most infamous cold case wide open in this charming cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Book Club Murders.
As the owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, Charley Carpenter supplies retro apparel to the residents of Oakwood, Ohio, but she’s been known to set business aside to play detective when a mystery rears its head. And there’s no bigger mystery in Oakwood than the murder of Regan Fletcher—a case that’s haunted the town for decades.
Regan’s boyfriend, Carter, did time for the crime—until another man’s confession freed him. But did the “real killer” really do it? Or did Carter walk away with blood on his hands? When Charley stumbles on an old journal written in code, it only complicates the case by revealing a blackmail scheme that targeted dozens of Oakwood’s citizens, giving them all a motive for murder.
Now, with a spate of new suspects to pursue, plus a fresh murder and the abduction of her sleuthing partner, Charley must dig deeper still into the past—even as she risks being buried by her shadowy prey. Joining forces with Detective Marcus Trenault and the newly formed Oakwood Mystery Book Club, Charley turns to a classic whodunit for clues on catching a killer—before more lives are lost, and the truth dies with them.
Leslie Nagel’s delightful Oakwood Mystery novels can be enjoyed together or separately: THE BOOK CLUB MURDERS • THE ANTIQUE HOUSE MURDERS • THE ADVICE COLUMN MURDERS • THE CODEBOOK MURDERS
I read the first book in this series and now the fourth. A lot has happened in between and even though I had no problem following this story, I will go back and read #2 and #3 to see what has happened in Oakwood and how Charley’s and Marc’s relationship has grown and changed.
The story started off with a bang. A twister has touched down in Oakwood, Ohio and Charley, our protagonist, finds herself in a tunnel between the high school sports field and the school itself. With the school janitor, Merritt Vance, and a young neighbour Katie, they head down the tunnel to the school. Along the way, Charley finds a backpack in a drain containing a journal that just happens to be written in code. When young Katie posts an instagram post about the journal and the fact that they think it might have belonged to a young lady who was murdered many years ago, the book is stolen and Charley’s father’s home is burgled.
I find Charley to be a great protagonist. She is smart, loyal and tenacious. The other characters in the story are well-developed. There is Charley’s family and loved ones who are a huge part of her life. She would do whatever she needs to in order to protect them. Then there are her co-workers and fellow book club members who add some humour and quirkiness. I love the small town feel where everyone helps each other out and knows what is happening in town. This was a fun mystery that was actually trying to solve a cold case, until a new murder happens. The murdered girl’s boyfriend was imprisoned for killing her, but it seems he might just be innocent. It is no surprise when Charley, her boyfriend and ex-detective Marc, and the Oakwood Mystery Book Club gang start looking into things and interviewing people. What they find are longtime hostilities between families and love triangles along with theft, murder, blackmail and kidnapping. This one will have you flipping the pages to find out who was behind the murder of Regan as well as the new murder, and who is trying to shut them down. I always like a mystery that I can not solve and this one measured up nicely. My only issue was that Charley seems to be given free rein from the police to investigate and solve these cases, with very little concern or interference from the police. With that being my only problem, I give this cozy mystery 4.5 stars. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About The Author: Leslie Nagel is a writer and teacher of writing at a local community college. Her debut novel, “The Book Club Murders”, is the first in the Oakwood Mystery Series. Leslie lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son, and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.
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