Christietown (Cece Caruso Series #4)

( 3 )

Overview

A new suspense-themed housing tract on the edge of the Mojave Desert is about to open, and who better to help promote the Cotswold-cozy development than mystery biographer extraordinaire Cece Caruso? For the grand opening weekend, Cece is staging a play featuring the beloved sleuth Miss Marple. Of course, everything goes wrong, including a leading lady who ends up dead.

All is not well in Christietown; its secrets are as complicated as the truth behind Agatha Christie's ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (49) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $3.50   
  • Used (36) from $1.99   
Christietown (Cece Caruso Series #4)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

A new suspense-themed housing tract on the edge of the Mojave Desert is about to open, and who better to help promote the Cotswold-cozy development than mystery biographer extraordinaire Cece Caruso? For the grand opening weekend, Cece is staging a play featuring the beloved sleuth Miss Marple. Of course, everything goes wrong, including a leading lady who ends up dead.

All is not well in Christietown; its secrets are as complicated as the truth behind Agatha Christie's real-life disappearance. The developer, an Englishman who claims to be Dame Agatha's descendent, has ruthless investors breathing down his neck. Meanwhile, Cece's got a wedding to plan, a baby shower to give, and an ex-husband who shows up on her doorstep with his fiancée and future mother-in-law. And when another body surfaces, the intrepid amateur sleuth knows she must play the famed detective for real—or suffer the same mysterious fate.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Among myriad personal issues, amateur sleuth Caruso investigates two suspicious deaths while promoting a new mystery-themed housing tract on the edge of the Mojave Desert in the fourth of the series. Former Los Angeles Times art critic Kandel lives in West Hollywood. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A real-estate developer transplants St. Mary's Mead to the California desert, and gets pretty much what he deserves. Awaiting the birth of her daughter Annie's first child, and still resisting fiance Peter Gambino's pleas to set a wedding date, celebrity biographer Cece Caruso (Sam Spade in the Green Room, 2006, etc.) agrees to stage an interactive Murder Mystery Tea at Christietown, the larkspur-laced brainchild of Ian Christie, who swears he's related to Dame Agatha herself. Cece pulls out all the stops, recruiting for the extravaganza not only Gambino but her best friends Bridget and Lael, over-the-hill showgirls Lois and Marlene, her gardener, Javier Gomez, and even her dance instructor, Lou Berman and his secretary, Wren Abbott. But Lou's wife Liz (aka Miss Marple) never shows. She's back at the sales office (aka the Vicarage), dead of an overdose of foxglove. Her demise turns out to be good news for Ian and his partner, a surly Israeli named Dov Pick (aka the Icepick), but bad news for Wren. The obligatory Southern California dispute over water rights and a second murder cast doubt on Christietown's future, just as the reappearance of Cece's loathsome ex, with fiancee and future mother-in-law in tow, throws a pall over Annie's upcoming blessed event. Murky stuff from the usually reliable Kandel. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra/Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061452178
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2007
  • Series: Cece Caruso Series , #4
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 807,132
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Kandel is a former art critic for the Los Angeles Times. She has taught at New York University and UCLA, and served as editor of the international journal artext. She lives in West Hollywood, California, with her husband, two daughters, and dog.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Christietown

A Novel About Vintage Clothing, Romance, Mystery, and Agatha Christie
By Susan Kandel

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Susan Kandel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061452178

Chapter One

The lights sparkled overhead as the man I loved spun me around the dance floor. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. His was pounding, too.

"'You'd be so nice to come home to,'" he murmured into my ear.

"'It had to be you,'" I whispered.

"'I've got you under my skin,'" he whispered back.

"No way," I said with a shudder. "They played that one at my first wedding."

"Must I remind you that we are dancing the tango, Ms. Caruso?" came a voice from across the room. "Sexy! Earthy! Drama!"

Lou Berman, aka Le Duc de Danse. I tuned him out. We'd found him in the Yellow Pages.

"We've only got one lesson left in the Romance Package, Cece." My fiancé, Peter Gambino, pressed hard on the small of my back. "We have to make a decision about the first dance soon."

"Arms high, Detective! You are a matador!" Lou stomped his feet, then whipped a McDonald's bag out of the trash and whirled it triumphantly overhead.

"'I Get a Kick Out of You?'" I suggested.

On cue, Gambino kicked me in the shins.

"Go with it, Ms. Caruso!" Lou cried. "You are the wounded bull!"

Not exactly the wedding-day scenario I had in mind.

"It's ten o'clock on the nose, people." Lou's wife, Liz Berman, emergedfrom the back office and flicked the CD player to Off. "Time to hit the road."

Gambino and I disentangled ourselves as Lou folded himself into a ratty metal chair. Liz sat down at her desk near the water cooler and knocked back her regular evening cocktail of antihistamines and acetominophen. Then, shooting Lou the evil eye, she got up to put the McDonald's bag back in the trash. She was the detail person.

"So what do you think of these kids?" Lou mopped a suspiciously smooth brow.

"They're really coming along," Liz said with no perceptible enthusiasm.

Gambino turned to me. "I told you. We're going to kick butt at next week's lesson."

I patted his arm. "I think we should avoid the word kick."

Lou looked dubious, in any case. Next week's lesson was the foxtrot, the most difficult of all ballroom dances, requiring constant shifts in rhythm from slow to fast to medium.

"If anyone can teach you two to foxtrot, it's Lou," Liz conceded.

"You kill me, doll." He went over and wrapped an arm around her waist, lifting her off her feet. Then the two of them—tall, plump, congested Liz and tall, thin, bottle-bronzed Lou—began to whirl around the room. Gambino and I stared, openmouthed. They didn't need music. They were music.

"Married twenty-two years," Lou said, dipping Liz.

"Twenty-two years," she repeated, upside down.

That was about how long it had been since I'd last walked down the aisle—young, pregnant, and dumb.

Dumb enough to think winning Miss Asbury Park, New Jersey, would be my ticket to eternal bliss.

Dumb enough to blow off college to put my then-husband through grad school.

Dumb enough—well, just dumb enough.

I wanted to believe I'd learned something since then. I looked over at Gambino. He was kind, smart, funny. He had me, and still wanted me.

Yes, I'd learned something since then.

"While we're on the subject of killing," said Liz, pulling out of her husband's embrace, "get a load of this."

I'd thought we were on the subject of love everlasting but I wasn't about to interrupt Liz, who discouraged that sort of thing. She peeled off her worn leather jacket, took a puff of her inhaler, then wrapped a fuzzy white scarf tight around her neck.

"My dears," she said, "it's truly a mystery to me." Her voice was suddenly frail, her nose longer, her skin pinker. She pulled a pair of knitting needles out of her bag. "But I so often seem to get mixed up in things that are really no concern of mine. Crimes, I mean, and peculiar happenings." She leaned her head a little to one side, like a cockatoo fluffing its feathers. "Nothing, of course, a nice linseed poultice couldn't cure."

"Miss Jane Marple!" I exclaimed.

"Damn straight," she said, then sneezed. "Guess I've got to double up on the Claritin for Saturday."

Saturday.

Saturday was a big deal.

I was dreading Saturday.

But at least Saturday was a distraction from the bigger deals in my life, which for the record would be:

1. Waiting to hear from my editor, Sally, about Poison Book, my biography of the mystery writer Agatha Christie. I'd sent the four-hundred-and-two-page manuscript off to her exactly eleven days, ten hours, and thirty-five minutes ago, not that I was counting.

2. Choosing the right ensemble for the upcoming baby shower I was hosting for my daughter, Annie. The champagne-colored, disco-era halter dress I had in mind didn't exactly scream "grandma." But I was barely forty years old. Did I really have to go for double-knit slacks? Or worse yet, a muu-muu?

3. Getting married.

4. Getting married (it merits two mentions).

Like I was saying, thank God for Saturday.

Saturday would mark the opening festivities of Phase 2 of Christietown, a Golden Age mystery-themed housing development on the sun-baked fringes of Antelope Valley, just east of Los Angeles.

I was in charge of Saturday.

In charge of the clotted cream, the scones, and the Cornish pasties; in charge of the yapping Yorkies and stubby Corgis; in charge of the larkspurs, hollyhocks, and snapdragons lining the neat brick path up to the Vicarage (which would be the sales office); and worse yet, in charge of the original, interactive Murder Mystery Tea, starring—yes—Liz Berman (aka La Duchesse de Danse) as Agatha Christie's beloved amateur sleuth, Miss Marple.

Everyone had a part.

Lou Berman was the butler. He didn't do it.

Wren Abbott, the dance studio's frizzy-haired receptionist, was an eleven-year-old with psychic abilities.

My second-best friend, Bridget, was her governess, Estella Raven, who was rude and spirited and whose studied insolence covered a great fear.



Continues...

Excerpted from Christietown by Susan Kandel Copyright © 2007 by Susan Kandel. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Christietown
A Novel About Vintage Clothing, Romance, Mystery, and Agatha Christie

Chapter One

The lights sparkled overhead as the man I loved spun me around the dance floor. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. His was pounding, too.

"'You'd be so nice to come home to,'" he murmured into my ear.

"'It had to be you,'" I whispered.

"'I've got you under my skin,'" he whispered back.

"No way," I said with a shudder. "They played that one at my first wedding."

"Must I remind you that we are dancing the tango, Ms. Caruso?" came a voice from across the room. "Sexy! Earthy! Drama!"

Lou Berman, aka Le Duc de Danse. I tuned him out. We'd found him in the Yellow Pages.

"We've only got one lesson left in the Romance Package, Cece." My fiancé, Peter Gambino, pressed hard on the small of my back. "We have to make a decision about the first dance soon."

"Arms high, Detective! You are a matador!" Lou stomped his feet, then whipped a McDonald's bag out of the trash and whirled it triumphantly overhead.

"'I Get a Kick Out of You?'" I suggested.

On cue, Gambino kicked me in the shins.

"Go with it, Ms. Caruso!" Lou cried. "You are the wounded bull!"

Not exactly the wedding-day scenario I had in mind.

"It's ten o'clock on the nose, people." Lou's wife, Liz Berman, emerged from the back office and flicked the CD player to Off. "Time to hit the road."

Gambino and I disentangled ourselves as Lou folded himself into a ratty metal chair. Liz sat down at her desk near the water cooler and knocked back her regular evening cocktailof antihistamines and acetominophen. Then, shooting Lou the evil eye, she got up to put the McDonald's bag back in the trash. She was the detail person.

"So what do you think of these kids?" Lou mopped a suspiciously smooth brow.

"They're really coming along," Liz said with no perceptible enthusiasm.

Gambino turned to me. "I told you. We're going to kick butt at next week's lesson."

I patted his arm. "I think we should avoid the word kick."

Lou looked dubious, in any case. Next week's lesson was the foxtrot, the most difficult of all ballroom dances, requiring constant shifts in rhythm from slow to fast to medium.

"If anyone can teach you two to foxtrot, it's Lou," Liz conceded.

"You kill me, doll." He went over and wrapped an arm around her waist, lifting her off her feet. Then the two of them—tall, plump, congested Liz and tall, thin, bottle-bronzed Lou—began to whirl around the room. Gambino and I stared, openmouthed. They didn't need music. They were music.

"Married twenty-two years," Lou said, dipping Liz.

"Twenty-two years," she repeated, upside down.

That was about how long it had been since I'd last walked down the aisle—young, pregnant, and dumb.

Dumb enough to think winning Miss Asbury Park, New Jersey, would be my ticket to eternal bliss.

Dumb enough to blow off college to put my then-husband through grad school.

Dumb enough—well, just dumb enough.

I wanted to believe I'd learned something since then. I looked over at Gambino. He was kind, smart, funny. He had me, and still wanted me.

Yes, I'd learned something since then.

"While we're on the subject of killing," said Liz, pulling out of her husband's embrace, "get a load of this."

I'd thought we were on the subject of love everlasting but I wasn't about to interrupt Liz, who discouraged that sort of thing. She peeled off her worn leather jacket, took a puff of her inhaler, then wrapped a fuzzy white scarf tight around her neck.

"My dears," she said, "it's truly a mystery to me." Her voice was suddenly frail, her nose longer, her skin pinker. She pulled a pair of knitting needles out of her bag. "But I so often seem to get mixed up in things that are really no concern of mine. Crimes, I mean, and peculiar happenings." She leaned her head a little to one side, like a cockatoo fluffing its feathers. "Nothing, of course, a nice linseed poultice couldn't cure."

"Miss Jane Marple!" I exclaimed.

"Damn straight," she said, then sneezed. "Guess I've got to double up on the Claritin for Saturday."

Saturday.

Saturday was a big deal.

I was dreading Saturday.

But at least Saturday was a distraction from the bigger deals in my life, which for the record would be:

1. Waiting to hear from my editor, Sally, about Poison Book, my biography of the mystery writer Agatha Christie. I'd sent the four-hundred-and-two-page manuscript off to her exactly eleven days, ten hours, and thirty-five minutes ago, not that I was counting.

2. Choosing the right ensemble for the upcoming baby shower I was hosting for my daughter, Annie. The champagne-colored, disco-era halter dress I had in mind didn't exactly scream "grandma." But I was barely forty years old. Did I really have to go for double-knit slacks? Or worse yet, a muu-muu?

3. Getting married.

4. Getting married (it merits two mentions).

Like I was saying, thank God for Saturday.

Saturday would mark the opening festivities of Phase 2 of Christietown, a Golden Age mystery-themed housing development on the sun-baked fringes of Antelope Valley, just east of Los Angeles.

I was in charge of Saturday.

In charge of the clotted cream, the scones, and the Cornish pasties; in charge of the yapping Yorkies and stubby Corgis; in charge of the larkspurs, hollyhocks, and snapdragons lining the neat brick path up to the Vicarage (which would be the sales office); and worse yet, in charge of the original, interactive Murder Mystery Tea, starring—yes—Liz Berman (aka La Duchesse de Danse) as Agatha Christie's beloved amateur sleuth, Miss Marple.

Everyone had a part.

Lou Berman was the butler. He didn't do it.

Wren Abbott, the dance studio's frizzy-haired receptionist, was an eleven-year-old with psychic abilities.

My second-best friend, Bridget, was her governess, Estella Raven, who was rude and spirited and whose studied insolence covered a great fear.

Christietown
A Novel About Vintage Clothing, Romance, Mystery, and Agatha Christie
. Copyright © by Susan Kandel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

A new Agatha Christie-themed housing tract on the edge of the Mojave Desert is about to open, and who better to help promote the Cotswold-cozy development than mystery biographer extraordinaire, Cece Caruso? For the grand opening weekend, Cece is staging a play featuring the beloved sleuth Miss Marple. Of course, everything goes wrong—including a leading lady who ends up dead.

All is not well in Christietown. The developer, an Englishman who claims to be a descendent of the Grand Dame of Mystery herself, has ruthless investors breathing down his neck. Meanwhile, Cece's got a wedding to plan and a baby shower to give, just as her ex-husband shows up on her doorstep with his fiancée and future mother-in-law in tow.

As Cece soon discovers, Christietown's secrets are as complicated as the truth behind Agatha Christie's real-life disappearance. When another body surfaces, the intrepid amateur sleuth knows she must play the famed detective for real—or suffer the same mysterious fate.

Questions for Discussion

QUESTIONS: 1. Cece Caruso loves old clothes, old movies, old houses, and dead authors. What in her life experience or character might account for this attraction to the past?

QUESTIONS: 2. What role does fashion play in Cece's solving of the mystery of Liz's death?

QUESTIONS: 3. To what extent does Christietown mimic the tone, style, or structure of an Agatha Christie whodunit? How might Christietown be read differently by long-standing Christie fans as opposed to those less familiar with Christie's work?

QUESTIONS: 4. The author interweaves Cece's present-day mystery with the mystery of Agatha Christie's 11 day disappearance. What do you think was the purpose of this strategy? How effective is it? How do the Christie sections impact you as a reader?

QUESTIONS: 5. How does Richard's bombshell revelation about Cece's past change your perception of Cece? Does it complicate your sense of her as a reliable narrator of her own past? How might this reverberate with the bombshell revelation in Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd?

QUESTIONS: 6. Cece is a biographer, but she traffics in intuition as much as cold hard data. How do you view the biographer's role? Is the truth to be found in fact, fiction, or somewhere in between?

QUESTIONS: 7. Do you consider Cece a feminist? Why or why not? How about Agatha Christie?

QUESTIONS: 8. What do you make of the parallels between Agatha and Archie, Lou and Liz, and Cece and her ex-husband, Richard? What does Christietown have to say about the self-deceptions and/or glories of romantic love and marriage?

QUESTIONS: 9. What is the importance in Christietown of secondary characters like Dot and Silvana? Are they merely comic relief, or do they add texture and richness to the story?

QUESTIONS: 10. How do you assess Ian Christie's guilt? Is he a villain, or fatally flawed? Is there a difference?

QUESTIONS: 11. What odds do you give Cece and Gambino of making it to the altar?

QUESTIONS: 12. Beyond the title, how does Christietown echo the 1974 film Chinatown?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A delightful whodunit

    Cece Caruso writes biographies of mystery writers. Her backlist includes Erle Stanley Gardner (see I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason), Carole Keene (Not a Girl Detective) and Dashiell Hammett (see Shamus in the Green Room). Her current assignment involves the opening gala of Christietown, a housing development duplicating a Cotswold village where else but in California her plan is a Miss Marple theater production.--------------- However, Liz ¿La Duchesse de Danse¿ Berman, who is playing the starring role, vanishes. Since Cece wears the same dress size she is expected to replace Liz. Instead Cece accompanied by her fiancé Detective Peter Gambino searches for the missing thespian. They find Liz except she will no longer perform on this stage unless a corpse is needed before she is buried someone murdered her.------------------ The latest homage to the greats of mystery writing, CHRISTIETOWN is a delightful whodunit. Cece is her usual self, stealing the technique of the author she honors this time being Dame Agatha. However, like in some Christie novels, clues that the reader will immediately know are shams slow down the plot at times. Still with Cece performing as Miss Marple, the audience will appreciate this fine mystery that provides insight into the great Agatha Christie.------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)