The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel – Guest Post

The Book Club Murders

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The Book Club Murders

The Book Club Murders by Leslie Nagel

The Oakwood Mystery Series

Charley Carpenter has poured heart and soul into her clothing store, Old Hat Vintage Fashions. She’ll do anything to make it a success—even join the stuffy Agathas Book Club in order to cultivate customers among the wealthy elite of Oakwood, Ohio.

Although mixing with the most influential women in town has its advantages, Charley finds the endless gossip a high price to pay. But after two women with close ties to the Agathas are brutally murdered, everyone falls under threat—and suspicion. When key evidence indicates that both murders are the work of the same hand, Charley realizes that the killer has arranged each corpse in perfect imitation of crime scenes from the Club’s murder mystery reading list. She uses her membership in the Club to convince Detective Marcus Trenault to use her as an inside informant. Not that he could stop her anyway.

Intelligent, fearless, and every bit as stubborn as Marc is, Charley soon learns the Agathas aren’t the only ones with secrets to protect. Passions explode as she and Marc must race against time to prevent another murder. And if Charley’s not careful, she may find herself becoming the killer’s next plot twist.

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Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s Guide to
Who’s Who on the Dayton Scene
by Bambi Gazelle

An exclusive interview with Dmitri St. James, assistant manager of Slash, Oakwood’s premier salon and day spa. A seat in his stylist’s chair is the hottest ticket in town, especially on the eve of the Oakwood Decades Reunion. I caught up with Dmitri as he was taking a break between clients:

BG: Thank you so much for squeezing me into your schedule today.

DSJ: Well, you don’t take no for an answer, do you, sweetie? (checks watch) I can give you twenty minutes. Tonight’s the big night, and everyone wants a vintage updo. I’ve got one under the hat and two on approach. It’s going to be balls to the wall until closing.

BG: You’re referring to the Oakwood High School Decades Reunion? The fundraiser for the Education Foundation?

DSJ: The social event of the season. Dinner, dancing, plenty of booze, the well heeled denizens of our fair city seeing and being seen, and all for a good cause. I find most people love an excuse to dress up, don’t you?

BG: Are you attending? You’re not an alumnus of Oakwood, are you?

DSJ: I am not. Bradford High School, Cleveland, actually. But, yes, I am escorting a beautiful young lady, Ms. Charley Carpenter. She is a graduate as well as the sole proprietor of Old Hat Vintage Fashions. (cocks thumb) Her shop’s next door. You know the theme for tonight is “Decades?” Everyone is supposed to dress up from a different decade to honor the long history of the school. You can imagine where most of them went for their period costumery.

BG: I popped in earlier. Several women were picking up gowns that Ms. Carpenter and her staff had altered. Gorgeous stuff. I’m taking a photographer with me tonight to capture as many vintage outfits as possible. I’ll be certain to ask where they had their hair done!

DSJ: Did you see Charley’s flapper dress? She’s going to sparkle like a fairy queen. It’s covered with—Wait. Forget I said anything. She kind of wants it to be a surprise. Although I’m not the one she—(bites lip)

BG: Yes? Is there someone else Ms. Carpenter hopes to impress tonight?

DSJ: No. Yes. S&^*. Whatever. He’s not going to be there anyway. That boy’s got his hands full with these two murders.

BG: You mean the murders of Serena Wyndham and Lisa Summerfield? Is Charley’s boyfriend a policeman?

DSJ: He’s not her boyfriend. They knew each other in high school, and she’s helped a little with the case, something of which I do not approve, FYI. And I’m not saying another word about him. Or them. Not that there is a “them.” Ask me something else, or we’re done.

BG: You mentioned growing up in Cleveland. What brought you to the Dayton area?

DSJ: A sad tale, but one with a happy ending. (sips coffee) Where was I? Ah, yes, the involuntary launching of a Greek Orthodox boy into the stratosphere by his narrow minded, backward thinking father.

BG: You fought with your father?

DSJ: The term “fought” implies some back and forth. This was a bit more one sided, I’m afraid. Picture the scene: a bright, good looking young man in his junior year of high school has just been named Division III All State in football. Colleges are scouting, he’s got the grades, his parents are thrilled, he’s the hottest ticket on the Bradford High campus. Sounds like he’s got it all, right?

BG: I’d say that young man has the world by the tail.

DSJ: Well, you’d be wrong. The thing is, this boy has a secret, something that’s been eating him alive for months, maybe longer. He’s not sure when he realized that his constant restless anxiety wasn’t normal. What he does know is that he’s got every cute girl in school calling and texting him, he’s literally beating off sexy cheerleaders with a stick, and all he can think about is Chris Carter.

BG: Chris Carter? Who is she?

DSJ: He’s the quarterback.

BG: Ah.

DSJ: Exactly.

BG: So you were young when you left home.

DSJ: Barely eighteen. I might’ve ended up on the street like a lot of kids do, but my Great Aunt Athena took me in. The old girl was an absolute pistol. Since she was too busy traveling the world to marry or have kids, she was all alone. We had such fun.

She flew single engine planes, played competitive high stakes poker, spoke six languages, and swore like a sailor in all six. She put me through cosmetology school, bless her heart. When she died, she left me her condo in the Oakwood Manor. It’s decorated like a Singapore whorehouse, but I haven’t had the heart to redecorate.

BG: Oakwood’s considered to be pretty conservative. How have you found living here?

DSJ: I love it here. The people are surprisingly progressive, for the most part. Unfortunately it’s also a bit like Noah’s Ark, everyone traveling in pairs with their two point four children. That’s made life a bit lonely, at least until I met Charley. She’s amazing, my best friend in the world.

BG: And you’re her date tonight?

DSJ: Someone has to keep an eye on that girl. She’d have given Aunt Athena a run for her money.

BG: Rumor has it those two murders you mentioned are connected. If Charley’s involved in the case, is she in danger?

DSJ: She might be. Everyone from her book club will be there tonight, along with half the town. That’s a lot of potential suspects wandering around that spooky old high school. Who knows what might happen? (Checks watch) Time’s up, girlfriend. Maybe I’ll see you tonight. It promises to be a killer party.

About the Author

leslie-nagelLeslie Nagel is a writer and teacher of writing at a local community college. Her debut novel, The Book Club Murders, is the first in the Oakwood Mystery Series. Leslie lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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