What’s the couple next door really hiding? Vintage fashionista and amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter finds out in this engrossing cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of The Book Club Murders.
In a small town like Oakwood, Ohio, everyone knows everyone else’s business—except for Charley Carpenter’s standoffish new neighbors, who tend to keep to themselves. But behind closed doors, Paxton Sharpe’s habit of screaming bloody murder at all hours of the day keeps Charley awake all night. Coupled with the stress of the increasingly delayed expansion of her shop, Old Hat Vintage Fashions, the insomnia is driving Charley crazy. Her only distraction? The local paper’s irreverent new advice column, “Ask Jackie.”
Jackie’s biting commentary usually leaves Charley and her employees rolling on the floor, but her latest column is no laughing matter. An oddly phrased query hinting at a child in peril immediately puts Charley on high alert. After arriving home to a bloodcurdling scream next door, she follows the noise into the basement and makes a grisly discovery: the body of Judith Sharpe’s adult daughter.
With Detective Marcus Trenault off in Chicago, Charley decides to take matters into her own hands. Convinced that the murder is connected to the desperate plea for help in “Ask Jackie,” she embarks on a twisted investigation that has her keeping up with the Sharpes—before a killer strikes again.
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
A perfect weekend read :)
I enjoyed this book immensely! One of my favorite aspects of this genre (the cozy mystery genre), is that you get the mix of the mystery/detective work, with this running commentary of the quirky lives of the town's residents. I actually discovered in the end of the epilogue that the author, Leslie Nagel, is from a real town of Oakwood, OH. Though there are likely less murders in the real Oakwood, I fell completely in love with this town, and Nagel's true experiences are why this town felt so authentic. This book made me want to live in that sweet town, with it's wacky residents and hometown newspaper!
This is actually the third in her Oakwood Mystery series. I haven't read the first two, but any reader can absolutely go into this book as a standalone. This book very carefully does not spoil the whodunit of any of the first two books. It mentions she has worked on cases before, but the who/why/how/where is completely left to the reader to go back and explore. This allowed me to read the third, and then go back and read the first two (which I plan to do, because I fell in love with this series!).
Charley Carpenter is in the middle of an expansion and renovation to her boutique, Old Hat Vintage Fashions, but the renovation project is seemingly cursed with setbacks! Charley enters her shop to check on the progress, only to find five gallons of paint splashed across the floor. Trudging back to her father's house, she meets up with two of her staff members and dear friends for a fresh baked cookie and some work.
Vanessa and Heddy cannot help pulling her into the latest entry in the local Oakwood paper featured in the "Ask Jackie" column--an agony aunt column serving up sassy advice to the residents of Oakwood and a particular favorite column of Charley and her friends. But this particular letter is different--the language is odd and distinct, and it mentions the endangerment of a small child. Charley, Vanessa, and Heddy discuss the letter and then move on to lunch al fresco, promptly forgetting it.
Though they live in close proximity, Charley and her dad Bobby are not close to their new neighbors. They aren't the friendliest sort of neighbors. But when they hear noises next door turn to sounds of distress, Charley and her father's caregiver Lawrence jump into action, racing across the driveways to lend a hand. In the basement, they find their neighbor wailing over a dead body.
As Charley does her best to deal with the murder, she becomes enmeshed with the case. There is a connection that she believes exists between the odd letter in the paper, Sarah's plea for assistance from Charley, and the murder. In a crazy power struggle, Charley's detective boyfriend Marc is cautioned not to assist, but Charley knows that the Sheriff's office is going down the wrong path to solving this murder. If only Charley can use her sharp wit, and connections around town, she may be able to help solve this thing before someone else is hurt!
This was an absolutely fantastic, fun read. I love cozy mysteries, and this one surpassed many I've read! One thing that I love about this genre is the sprinkling of town gossip that underlies everything that happens in the story. In a town as small as Oakwood, everyone knows everyone, and gossip travels fast. Charley has a lot of spunk, but she also has vulnerabilities. I loved her as a character.
I thought Leslie Nagel did a great job of allowing each book to technically be read on its own, or out of order from the series. I never felt like there was no point in returning to the previous books because I read this one first. I particularly like this series for my post-grad students. Many of them have never found their love of reading, and I think books such as this one are a great way to remind them that reading can be fun and light-hearted, even when covering a dark topic such as murder.
I want to thank NetGalley, Alibi, and Random House Publishing Group for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
A Great Series
Okay, I’ll admit I loved Leslie Nagel’s cozy Oakwood mysteries starring Charley (Charlotte) Carpenter and her friends and relatives from the very first book.
I can’t wait for the next one to appear! (Write faster, Leslie!) This third installment, was as entertaining and intriguing as the first two.
Nagel has populated her Oakwood setting with a cast of characters you wouldn’t mind having as friends and neighbors yourself: like Charley’s loving and supportive wheelchair-bound dad, her dad’s wonderful caregiver, her BFF Frankie, and Charley’s hunky boyfriend, Marc, to name a few. Even the villains are multi-dimensional and retain some shred of humanity.
If you like a good cozy mystery with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, The Advice Column Mystery will not disappoint.
Add a few eccentrics, humor, romance, and a heroine with a whole lot of heart and you have a surefire winner!