In my continuing quest to reread (or in some rarer cases, read for the first time) the most recommended Cozy Mysteries listed on the site, I’ve recently taken the time to reread the first book in Victoria Abbott‘s Book Collector Mystery Series, “The Christie Curse“.
This is one of the books on my “most recommended” lists that I actually read relatively recently >>> because it was only released in 2013. It still has a reputation that indicates it is likely to reach “modern Cozy Classic” series, and I think that the reputation in this case is justified.
Jordan Bingham is a recent college graduate returning home to Harrison Falls, located in scenic upstate New York, and needs to find a job quickly. With a Master’s Degree in English and experience handling rare manuscripts, hunting down rare and elusive manuscripts for noted local recluse Vera Van Alst might seem like a dream job, though her potential employer’s cantankerous nature and questionable reputation give her some pause. Still, graduate school caused some serious debt, and living off of her uncles’ charity indefinitely might be possible, but certainly not desirable.
Naturally, the situation becomes much worse very quickly. It turns out Jordan’s predecessor died under mysterious circumstances while hunting down a supposed lost Agatha Christie play. When people he might have interacted with are attacked, it doesn’t take long to realize there’s likely a connection.
One of the most interesting things about this series is Jordan’s family background. Her family, the Kellys (her father was a Bingham, but her Bingham side doesn’t come into play in this entry in the series) are skilled local criminals. Jordan herself has never stepped outside the law (well, not without a good reason). However, with this family connection she has access to a not only a potential pool of confidantes who will help her out but who also have a skill set to perform the breaking and entering and minor swiping of clues that Cozy Mystery sleuths so frequently need.
Another interesting element of this (and further installments) is that each focuses on a classic mystery author. Not all of these are Cozies – but this entry focuses on Agatha Christie, perhaps the most definitive Cozy Mystery author of all time. Details on the classic author’s life are interspersed through the novel as the mystery (and Jordan’s own research, as she’s hardly an expert on mystery novels) progress.
One interesting tidbit is that author “Victoria Abbott” is actually two individuals – Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter, Victoria Maffini. I haven’t read any Mary Jane Maffini books, but considering how strong this series is, I do intend to when I can finally find the time (my “to be read” pile has become truly huge).
It’s sometimes hard to peg what will withstand the test of time when it is originally released, but I certainly hope that this popular series continues for many more entries!
PS: For those who might have the scales tipped by this sort of detail, there is a recipe included at the end of the book!