Books

by Victoria Abbott
Berkley Prime Crime, March 2013, $7.99

The Christie Curse, Victoria Abbott’s first Book Collector Mystery, is suspiciously polished for a maiden work by a novice author. I wasn’t surprised, then, to discover that Abbott is actually a mother-daughter duo consisting of neophyte writer Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, a veteran Canadian mystery writer with three series to her name. The Christie Curse introduces Jordan Kelly, a destitute English major with a newly minted graduate degree. Jordan returns to her hometown, Harrison Falls, New York, to once again take up residence with the rather unusual (i.e., criminal) uncles who raised her. Fortunately, Jordan chances upon what appears to be the perfect job, when she answers a want ad for a research position in the home of Vera Van Alst, the last remaining member of the family dynasty responsible for making—and then breaking—the town of Harrison Falls. (When the Van Alst Shoe Company fails, so, too, does the village economy.) Jordan accepts the job, which requires her to research the life and works of—you guessed it—Dame Agatha Christie, in order to discover the whereabouts of a lost play. The Abbott/Maffini team employs a clever plot framework by invoking Christie’s mysterious, still-unexplained 11-day disappearance in December, 1926. Perhaps—just perhaps—Christie had written a play during the time she escaped the ignominy of her faithless husband. Jordan’s ultimate mission, then, is to obtain the Christie manuscript for her employer, inveterate mystery book collector Vera Van Alst. Along the way, Jordan must solve mysteries involving the suspicious death of her predecessor in the research position and the blatant murder of a local rare-book dealer. Despite the fact that it is notably improbable that small-town Harrison Falls would support a number of competing rare book dealers and that Jordan’s search could be conducted locally, The Christie Curse gains momentum as it hurtles toward its denouement. I wish, though, that “Abbott” incorporated the Christie hook as more than simply a device for framing the mystery. As a reader, I was a bit disappointed, because the title of The Christie Caper seemed to promise more than it delivered regarding Christie and her works. That being said, this is a truly enjoyable book.

Lynne Maxwell

The Christie Curse, Victoria Abbott’s first Book Collector Mystery, is suspiciously polished for a maiden work by a novice author. I wasn’t surprised, then, to discover that Abbott is actually a mother-daughter duo consisting of neophyte writer Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, a veteran Canadian mystery writer with three series to her name. The Christie Curse introduces Jordan Kelly, a destitute English major with a newly minted graduate degree. Jordan returns to her hometown, Harrison Falls, New York, to once again take up residence with the rather unusual (i.e., criminal) uncles who raised her. Fortunately, Jordan chances upon what appears to be the perfect job, when she answers a want ad for a research position in the home of Vera Van Alst, the last remaining member of the family dynasty responsible for making—and then breaking—the town of Harrison Falls. (When the Van Alst Shoe Company fails, so, too, does the village economy.) Jordan accepts the job, which requires her to research the life and works of—you guessed it—Dame Agatha Christie, in order to discover the whereabouts of a lost play. The Abbott/Maffini team employs a clever plot framework by invoking Christie’s mysterious, still-unexplained 11-day disappearance in December, 1926. Perhaps—just perhaps—Christie had written a play during the time she escaped the ignominy of her faithless husband. Jordan’s ultimate mission, then, is to obtain the Christie manuscript for her employer, inveterate mystery book collector Vera Van Alst. Along the way, Jordan must solve mysteries involving the suspicious death of her predecessor in the research position and the blatant murder of a local rare-book dealer. Despite the fact that it is notably improbable that small-town Harrison Falls would support a number of competing rare book dealers and that Jordan’s search could be conducted locally, The Christie Curse gains momentum as it hurtles toward its denouement. I wish, though, that “Abbott” incorporated the Christie hook as more than simply a device for framing the mystery. As a reader, I was a bit disappointed, because the title of The Christie Caper seemed to promise more than it delivered regarding Christie and her works. That being said, this is a truly enjoyable book.

Teri Duerr
3069

by Victoria Abbott
Berkley Prime Crime, March 2013, $7.99

Abbott
March 2013
the-christie-curse
7.99
Berkley Prime Crime