Authors: Marilyn Levinson
Tags: #Long Island, #Mystery, #Marilyn Levinson, #Golden Age of Mystery, #cozy mystery, #book club, #amateur sleuth, #female sleuth, #Agatha Christie
MURDER A LA CHRISTIE
Copyright © 2016 Marilyn Levinson
his book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons living or dead or to actual events or locales is purely coincidental and beyond the author’s intention.
ll rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without the author’s permission.
Cover design by Polly Iyer
In memory of Bernie
Mystery and Romantic Suspense:
Murder the Tey Way
A Murderer Among Us
Murder in the Air
Giving Up the Ghost
Novels for Young Readers:
The Devil’s Pawn
No Boys Allowed
Rufus and Magic Run Amok
Getting Back to Normal
And Don’t Bring Jeremy
What Readers Are Saying about MURDER A LA CHRISTIE:
harming and entertaining, this cleverly affectionate contemporary
twist on the traditional mystery will delight Christie fans!”
~ Hank Phillippi Ryan, award-winning mystery author
arilyn Levinson presents a great plot that'll keep you guessing,
with multiple red herrings, and plot twists.” ~ Stephanie Jones
f you, as I do, enjoy the tradition of Agatha Christie cozies,
you will enjoy "
Murder a la Christie
!”’ ~ J. Hanahan
Murder a la Christie
is a must for every mystery lover's bookshelf. It has all the trappings of a traditional English village mystery ... set on Long Island.” ~ T. S. Owen
he PLOT keeps you wanting to read until you’ve figured out
who the heck done it!“ ~ Must Read Faster
Murder a la Christie
is a smart whodunit and delightful homage to
the grand dame of the genre from a contemporary mystery writer."
~ Book Club Librarian
Murder a la Christie
is a fast, fun, read for Christie fans.”
~ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
well-written novel with intriguing characters, good dialogue, multiple victims and a light romance, Ms. Levinson’s book captured my
attention from the first page and never let go.”
~ Queen of All She Reads
his book is absolutely wonderful, just when I thought I knew who did it another clue was pointed out that change my mind. It was a page turner.”
~ Shanna Crabtree
s. Levinson has created likable, relatable characters and a fast-paced plot in this this clever whodunnit! Lexie Driscoll, a college literature professor takes up temporary residence with the upper crust and discovers these ‘nice people’ aren't too nice at all. A thoroughly enjoyable read and I highly recommend it!”
~ Hollister C. Price
nd check out Sandra Murphy’s humorous review in Kings River Life:
List of Characters
Professor Lexie Driscoll
– (48) leader of the Golden Age of Mystery book club
– (70) old friend of Lexie’s and member of the book club
– (72) Sylvia’s neighbor and a member of the book club
– (48) Lexie’s best friend and member of the book club
– (49) Rosie’s husband; Lexie’s college boyfriend
– (21) Rosie and Hal’s youngest daughter
– (25) Ginger’s boy friend
– (55) member of the book club
– (32) Ruth’s prickly daughter
– (32) Lexie’s beautiful, young lawyer and a member
of the book club
– (32) Rosie’s dim-witted young cousin, a member of the book club
– (33) Paulette’s husband
– (57) Paulette’s mother and Rosie’s older cousin
Allistair (Al) West
– (53) world-renown architect
– (49) homicide detective
rite that book if you dare, but you won’t live to see it in print!”
I stared at the two older women—the usually subdued Gerda Stein, her face flushed with anger, and my dear friend Sylvia—but neither seemed aware that I’d entered the kitchen.
Sylvia shook her head in dismay. “I’ve no wish to upset you, but your father’s story is the keystone of my book. He was a Nazi, Gerda, and responsible for killing thousands of innocent people.”
“I know what my father was!” Fury made Gerda’s German accent more pronounced. “But I told you about him in confidence. Not so you’d write about it and expose him to the world!”
I cleared my throat. “The meeting’s about to begin. I came in for water,” I added, to apologize for my intrusion during this highly volatile and personal exchange. I made a beeline for the sink and turned on the faucet. From the corner of my eye, I watched Gerda stomp out of the room. After that outburst, I wondered if she’d be staying for the first meeting of the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club, which I’d been asked to lead.
Someone touched my shoulder, and I almost dropped the glass I was filling. I turned and caught Sylvia’s expression of concern. “I’m sorry you had to hear that, Lexie. Gerda can be the most stubborn, obstinate person I know.”
“She threatened you!”
Sylvia dismissed any possibility of danger with a wave of her hand. “She doesn’t mean it. Though I must admit, in the thirty years we’ve been neighbors, I’ve never seen her this agitated.”
Before I could respond, my best friend Rosie burst in, bristling with exasperation. “Lexie, what are you doing in here? Everyone’s waiting for you.”
Sylvia and I murmured our apologies and followed our hostess across the marble-floored hall, through the living room, and into the rosewood-paneled library. Rosie and Sylvia joined the others on three leather couches placed around the coffee table now littered with glasses, cups, and half-eaten desserts. The antique desk I’d claimed for my notes formed the fourth side of the square. Gerda hadn’t left, after all, but sat glowering in the far corner of the room.
I smiled as I passed around handouts filled with bios of Golden Age of Mystery authors and their novels. “Now let us speak about murder.”
Pleased to have captured everyone’s full attention, I continued. “I refer, of course, to literary murder during the Golden Age of Mystery. This period refers to mysteries written between the two World Wars by authors still read by millions of readers—Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, and several others I’ve listed for you to read about at your leisure.”
Papers crackled as the members glanced through the pages I’d distributed.
“You’ll note that most of the authors are English and American. Tonight we’ll talk about Dame Agatha Christie, queen of the detective novel.”
I segued into an abbreviated bio. “Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in 1890 in Torquay, England. Her father was American, and she was home-schooled. Her life presents a mystery of its own. After her husband told her he wanted a divorce to marry his lover, Agatha disappeared. They found her eleven days later in a Yorkshire hotel, supposedly having suffered a bout of amnesia.”
The members entered into a lively discussion of the film, “Agatha.” After I commented that the movie was a highly fictionalized version of what certainly hadn’t occurred during Christie’s disappearance, Rosie flashed me a warning glance. The professor in me longed to redirect the conversation to the book we were scheduled to analyze, but Rosie’s earlier advice came through loud and clear: you’re leading a book club, not teaching Chaucer to a class of English majors. Expect plenty of digressions, interruptions, and comments. People join book clubs to express their opinions and speak their mind.
Eventually I managed to get back on track. “Agatha Christie’s second husband was an archeologist. She accompanied him on expeditions to the Middle East, the setting of several of her books. During World War One, she worked in a hospital and a pharmacy, where she learned a good deal about drugs. Many of her murderers use poison to kill their victims.”
Todd Taylor, the only male in the room, grinned. “So you’re saying old Agatha had plenty of firsthand experience poisoning people?”
I smiled back at the handsome young man sitting next to Ginger, Rosie’s youngest daughter. “No, Todd, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m pointing out that she knew a good deal about toxicology and made use of this knowledge in her novels.”
Ginger poked him in the ribs. “Please excuse Todd’s bad behavior, Aunt Lexie. He’s giddy from taking his last law exam.”
“I’ll behave,” Todd said to Ginger rather than to me, as they exchanged knowing glances.
Oh? And when had this come about? Rosie had never breathed a word that Ginger and Todd were dating, or whatever the going expression was this year.
My memory flashed back to a skinny little girl trailing after the older boy who lived down the block, even when he made her hold his can of worms. Suddenly I felt decades older than my forty-eight years.
Rosie beamed at the two lovebirds, her obvious approval out there for anyone to notice. Beside her, Sylvia stared into space. I wondered if she was mentally at work on her current manuscript. Or was she still reeling from her encounter with Gerda?
I cleared my throat and returned to my duties as facilitator. “Hercule Poirot makes his first appearance in
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
, Christie’s first published novel, which came out in 1920. As for Poirot, the renowned Belgian detective features in over eighty of Christie’s stories.” I smiled. “Poirot’s so famous, that when he ‘died’ his obituary appeared in The Times.
“Before we talk about the plot, would any of you care to share your opinions regarding Dame Agatha’s writing in general. Yes, Ruth?”
Ruth Blessing, a petite, attractive woman in her mid-fifties cocked her sleekly coifed head. “Though Christie wrote this book almost one hundred years ago, the language is simple and straightforward. I zipped right through it.”
“Dame Agatha’s style is thoroughly enjoyable, a primary reason why she’s still widely read,” I said. “Anyone else?”
“She knows of the evil that lurks in all our hearts,” Todd said.
I shivered, remembering Gerda’s fierce threat issued minutes ago.
Surely she wouldn’t kill Sylvia for refusing to do as she’d demanded. But she wanted to. Had I ever wanted to kill anyone? Perhaps my second husband.
“Lexie?” Rosie prompted.
“’Fess up, has everyone read the novel?” I asked.
Everyone but Anne Chadwick, my clever, young lawyer, raised a hand. Even embarrassed, she looked smashing—a slightly older version of the blonde, all-American model she’d been in her teens. She gave an apologetic laugh.