cover image Christietown: A Cece Caruso Mystery

Christietown: A Cece Caruso Mystery

Susan Kandel, . . Morrow, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-06-088369-0

Kandel's entertaining but thin fourth puzzler (after 2006's Shamus in the Green Room ) finds sleuthing biographer and vintage fashion hound Cece Caruso putting the finishing touches on her account of Agatha Christie's life. But her editor's demands for rewrites are an unwelcome distraction from the baby shower she's throwing for her pregnant daughter, Annie, and the wedding plans she's making with her fiancé, L.A. detective Peter Gambino. Cece is also directing a Miss Marple–themed play for the opening ceremonies of a housing development called Christietown, a "Cotswaldsesque cozyland" built by ex-circus huckster Ian Christie, who claims to be a distant relative of the queen of crime. But when the lead actress goes missing on opening night and later turns up dead, Cece once again turns sleuth. As with previous installments in this stylish series, Kandel deftly contrasts clever excerpts from Cece's biographies with her personal dilemmas, but the contrived mystery plot disappoints. (June)