Series: League of Literary Ladies #1
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Published by Berkley on 4 June 2013
This novel opens with three squabbling women pushing the local judge to issue a very creative court order – they must attend a book group at the local library for one year so they can learn to get along. Another woman joins them who acts as the peacemaker. First novel is Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Logan pays homage to it throughout her novel. When the owner of The Orient Express is murdered, our book group decides to investigate – after all, he did make the best orange chicken in town.
The protagonist Bea is fairly engaging and we get little breadcrumbs dropped about her past. Running away to a little island community suggests something big especially as she refers to testifying against someone in court. I imagine this will be teased out over future novels. We do know that she is very private, wealthy enough to sink a fortune into restoring a B&B, highly literate and generous enough to accommodate as many people as possible during the freak weather. There is a hint at a romance between Bea and the surly, hot Levi who we just know has some skeletons rattling around in his closet.
One of the problems of having so many sidekicks is that they often don’t get the page space necessary to fully develop them. At first Chandra aka Sandy seemed like your stereotypical new age hippy while Kate the winery owner was a hardnosed business woman. I really enjoyed it when the characters broke free from their molds though and became distinctive in their own right. Unfortunately I can’t pay the same compliment to the B&B guests who were fairly clichéd. Christie did much the same with her passengers so I’m not sure whether this was a deliberate stylistic choice or by accident.
The plot follows the basics of Christie’s in that we have a murder committed with lots of suspects trapped in a fairly small area and a variety of clues that point in different directions. It is simply a matter of sorting through the lies much like Hercules Poirot. These ladies do not quite have Poirot’s ability to logically deduct but tend to rely more on luck. I got the how and the why fairly easily but the identity of the killer had me stumped until Bea came up with a completely left of centre solution. It worked but there wasn’t much of a hint prior to the ‘aha’ moment.
All in all, this was an enjoyable read. The series’ set-up means we are likely to have tributes to a variety of classic mystery novels which should keep things fresh.