Murder a la Christie: Mary Levinson
What can be dangerous about joining a book club? What could happen when the members meet to discuss the novels of Agatha Christie? Professor Lexie Driscoll has been asked to conduct and moderate the first meeting of the Golden Age of Mystery book club. Finding herself in an upscale mansion with members of this club that most might find opinionated, judgmental and definitely not a typical book club group, this first meeting will prove to be anything but boring. As the members take their seats we meet Lexie, Rosie and her husband Hal, Annie, a lawyer, Paulette and her husband Lowell, and her doting mother Adele, Marcie and Scott, Ginger and Todd. Each member has his or her own issues, pasts and secrets they want to keep hidden. Each member will make you wonder just why they joined the club, what they love or hate about Christie’s novels and how their personalities might come into play when things begin to heat up, danger strikes and the bodies begin to fall.
Author Marilyn Levinson brings to light a community on Long Island that is having their first book club meeting. Agatha Christite gave readers my favorite detective Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian police officer who was to become one of the most enduring characters in all of fiction. His distinct appearance, his waxed moustache and his “little grey cells,” solving murders in his special unique and orderly fashion, Poirot would be one person you would want to solve cases even today. As a mystery writer she penned many novels like Murder on the Orient Express and one of my favorites And Then There Were None that this novel is modeled after. As the author writes on the back cover “ Using Miss Marple’s knowledge of human nature and Hercule Poirot’s cunning,” when murders take place Dr. Lexie Driscoll hopes to reveal the murderer before more bodies fall.
As the meeting is about to get started and everyone takes their place the discussion begins but one member of the group falls ill but not before she and another member have a serious argument. As Sylvia Morris and Gerta Stein got into a heated discussion about the book Sylvia is about the have published, threats are made and words are spoken that would hinder more than the book club’s first meeting. When Sylvia decides to go up to her room and rest, little did anyone know that she was really more than just a little ill? Someone had put toxic water in her ice tea and the next thing they learned was that she was gone. But, was it an accident? Was it a natural death? Or is someone trying to eliminate members of the book club one at a time Until There Are None?
Author Marilyn Levinson kills three major characters within the pages of this novel making readers wonder just who will be next and who the real target it. Animosity, deceits, anger and definitely not a book club that most would want to join, as the members argue, some would like do to more than just destroy the others, as one young woman learns about her husband’s many betrayals, while Lexie deals with two men who are knocking at her door. The police detective in charge of the investigation, Donavan and the architect next door that seems quite interested. She is torn but will she make a decision?
As the club resumes their meetings and Ruth decides to host the next one, three members are slain, and Lexie with the help of the police detective, borrowing some of Poirot’s grey cells and Agatha’s reasoning, she just might put together who is behind Sylvia’s murder, Anne’s car crash and Gerda’s death. Each family member has issues that they would rather not reveal. As Adele, Paulette’s mother seems overbearing, overpowering and definitely in control of her daughter’s life. With Lowell, on the make and married to her for convenience, Paulette’s miscarriage that she plays to the hilt, things start to heat up and the spotlight falls in many places. But, believe it or not Lexie is the first person of interest and it takes many interviews, a lot of convincing and hard work for her to be eliminated by Donovan.
Lowell Hartman the man present in the room stating something happened to Sylvia. Lexie deducing she was poisoned. Threats come at Lexie, the real target comes to light and the question is what happened to the flowers that were on the kitchen counter in Sylvia’s house? Who might have used the water from the lilies to end her life? Was she the real target or is there a diabolically clever killer hiding in plain sight?
Murder a la Christie or shall we say al la Marilyn Levinson in the style of Agatha’s Ms. Marple and touch of Hetty Winthrop, Jessica Fletcher and maybe a pinch of Jennifer Hart, Lexie Driscoll is tenacious, smart, persistent, curious, clever, intuitive and definitely relentless when pursuing a goal. But, just who killed Anne and why? You won’t believe and the reasons will come clear when you hear the confession that the person makes and even the justification for doing the deed. But, who else might be involved? Is someone covering for the real killer? A murder club filled with members that would rather not be in the same room with each other at times. Ginger, Rosie’s daughter, smart and dealing with a fall out with her boyfriend Todd. Paulette facing the fact that Lowell has been cheating on her with more than one woman. Anne the lawyer who botched up Marcie and Scott’s adoption so they say even though she warned them that they were being scammed. Don’t let appearances fool you, as Marple was sharp as a tack and Poirot brilliant although you might think odd.
An ending that will deliver some unusual revelations, twists and surprises. Research into Agatha’s novels and allowing readers to get to know many of her well known books, The ABC Murders is one of my favorite as Poirot receives a letter before each murder starting with a specific letter of the alphabet but is he in time to save the victim? When Lexie devises her plan will she be in time to save who is next? Will she choose Alistair and his offer to move into one of his houses? Will she remain and find happiness with Brian Donovan? Find out when you read the next in the series.
Who lives? Who dies? Who will be around for the next meeting of the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club?
Fran Lewis: Reviewer