Every mystery fan has speculated about what really happened in 1926 when Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. When word reaches reclusive and wealthy book collector Vera Van Alst that a previously unknown play written by Christie may be related to her disappearance, the eccentric and none-too-sociable Van Alst hires Jordan Bingham to track down the play.
In less than a day on the new job, however, Jordan begins to suspect that her employer isn’t telling her everything. To begin with, the previous researcher was killed in what may or may not have been a bizarre accident. Then the bookseller who hints to Jordan that she may have a lead on the Christie manuscript is attacked and left for dead, as is a timid young woman and concessions vendor who was in a position to overhear the bookseller’s conversation. Being first on the scene of the bookseller’s assault, befriending the vendor, and snooping for clues while rescuing a dog make Jordan a suspect in the eyes of the local detective. Meanwhile, her determined search for the manuscript makes her a target for a dangerous killer.
The Christie Curse is the first in a new series by Victoria Abbott, and it’s the sort of book that Agatha herself would be proud to have written. It combines all the best elements of a mystery novel—creepy mansion, mysterious recluse, a host of possible suspects, a smart and savvy sleuth, cats, recipes, books, and a fascinating puzzle. The characters and their backgrounds are delightfully quirky, but Abbott never lets the mystery get lost in gimmickry. Not only is Jordan a sensible heroine (she always lets someone know where she is and who she’s with). Her reasons for being involved in the investigation make sense—she isn’t looking for a killer, she’s just doing her job; the killer keeps coming after her.
The Christie Curse boasts a tight plot, superb pacing, and an elegant style that incorporates just the right amount of dry humor. Everything about this introduction to the Book Collector Mystery series gives cozy fans good reason to look eagerly forward to many more titles by Abbott.