Book Review: The Christie Curse (A Book Collector Mystery #1) by Victoria Abbott

The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Berkley

Summary:   In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared—making headlines across the world—only to show up eleven days later at a spa under an assumed name. During those eleven days, did she have time to write a play? 

Jordan Kelly needs a new job and a new place to live. She’s back in Harrison Falls, New York, living with her not so law-abiding uncles, in debt thanks to a credit card–stealing ex and pending grad school loans. 

Enter the perfect job, a research position that includes room and board, which will allow her to spend her days hunting down rare mysteries for an avid book collector. There’s just one problem: her employer, Vera Van Alst—the most hated citizen of Harrison Falls. 

Jordan’s first assignment is to track down a rumored Agatha Christie play. It seems easy enough, but Jordan soon finds out that her predecessor was killed while looking for it, and there is still someone out there willing to murder to keep the play out of Vera’s hands. Jordan’s new job is good…but is it worth her life? 

This was a fun entry to a cozy mystery series. I continue to come across cozies that feature librarians, curators, researchers and whatnot so when I read that this one was about a look in at the apparently deadly world of book collecting, I was in.

The mystery of the validity of the existence of a play Agatha Christie penned during her eleven days "missing" drew me right in. With her predecessor having been killed and Cozy Corpse book shop owner, Karen Smith bludgeoned and left for dead, Jordan has no choice but to investigate because it seems anyone on the trail of this manuscript is a target and she could be next.

While I sort of found all the uncles charming for helping out Jordan, I must admit that I don't tend to find larceny charming so that was a little bit of a detraction. The story still had quite a lot to recommend it. Vera Van Alst was a dour piece of work but I'm thinking she'll be less prickly in the future. Her single-mindedness at obtaining works for her collection was obsessive in the extreme especially when the bodies start to pile up. I'm hoping further in the series, Tiffy can get time away from her job in Alberta to visit or maybe Jordan can take a trip north. Their BFF dynamic was well done. I feel like there's a love triangle setting up between Jordan, librarian Lance and Officer Dekker. I like both guys as presented but I'm a chronic hater of the lurve triangle so... we'll see.

In all things to the good, I was pretty sure about who was doing the killing but really only because it was the one person, Jordan never checked on or suspected. The second player in the plan was one I'd suspected but didn't think I was correct after a series of events. When all was revealed, the ties were plausible and I thought well done. This was quite the page turner and to my surprise ended with a trio of recipes from Signora Fiametta Panetone, Vera's very attendant cook. Seriously, I loved every recount of what the signora served and her insistence that her charges eat. The woman was relentless in a completely endearing way. I enjoyed the read, now I want to make the food.

There's good humor weaved throughout and some memorable quotes. Three of my favorites:

"I thought I appreciated books, but this was an alter to the book gods. It was hard not to be impressed. I didn't know what had the most impact: the rosewood shelving, the rolling library ladders, the mezzanine floor with the ornate spiral wrought-iron staircases at each end, the carved moldings, the scent of well-loved books, or the silky Aubusson rugs in a soft faded palette of rose, sage and aqua."- pg. 20 (not funny but a great description of for a home library!)

"I felt I was sitting in the midst of some surreal movie. Postwar Italian perhpas, only with more food and less sex."- pg 54

"I didn't have the best night's sleep. It was full of limping strangers, cats with keys, postmen wearing fright wigs and Miss Jane Marple hanging upside down like a bat."- pg 147

I'm definitely continuing with this series and look forward to the next.

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