Tuesday, July 23, 2019



In a small town like Oakwood, Ohio, everyone knows everyone else’s business—except for Charley Carpenter’s standoffish new neighbors, who tend to keep to themselves. But behind closed doors, Paxton Sharpe’s habit of screaming bloody murder at all hours of the day keeps Charley awake all night. Coupled with the stress of the increasingly delayed expansion of her shop, Old Hat Vintage Fashions, the insomnia is driving Charley crazy. Her only distraction? The local paper’s irreverent new advice column, “Ask Jackie.”

Jackie’s biting commentary usually leaves Charley and her employees rolling on the floor, but her latest column is no laughing matter. An oddly phrased query hinting at a child in peril immediately puts Charley on high alert. After arriving home to a bloodcurdling scream next door, she follows the noise into the basement and makes a grisly discovery: the body of Judith Sharpe’s adult daughter.

With Detective Marcus Trenault off in Chicago, Charley decides to take matters into her own hands. Convinced that the murder is connected to the desperate plea for help in “Ask Jackie,” she embarks on a twisted investigation that has her keeping up with the Sharpes—before a killer strikes again.

Book Details:

Title: The Codebook Murders

Author: Leslie Nagel

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: The Oakwood Book Club Mysteries, book 4

Publisher: Random House Alibi (May 21st, 2019)

Print length: E book and audio formats only, 245 pages


A Day in the Life of Amateur Sleuth Charley Carpenter

Suburbia is murder, my friends.

I know this, and in the most intimate and shocking way possible. And yet, I simply cannot leave well enough alone. Or maybe it’s the murders that won’t leave me alone. I’m just a shopkeeper, for pity’s sake. Maybe it’s the red hair . . .

My name is Charlotte Carpenter, aka Charley. I am the humble owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, the trendiest boutique in my hometown of Oakwood, a wealthy, insular suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Not exactly your first pick as a likely locale for a series of gruesome murders, you say?

You’d be dead wrong.

A few months ago, I helped the police solve a baffling case involving the exclusive Agathas Book Club, of which I used to be a member—before most of the membership was knocked off, with crime scenes arranged to copy books from our murder mystery reading list. Specifically, I found myself working intimately with smoking hot Detective Marcus Trenault.

Ever since that first investigation, I’ve encountered more dead bodies than any amateur sleuth has a right to expect. I love it. And I’m good at it, too—solving puzzles, tracking down information, going where the police cannot. My secret? I listen. And I remember what I’ve heard, making connections that help me to discover the truth.

Before you ask, the fact that I’ve had a major thing for Marc since we were in high school had no influence whatsoever on my affinity for all things murder. None at all. Of course, now that we’re in a committed relationship, I’ve taken advantage of his expertise and professional contacts to solve more than one mystery.

Marc bought the house next door and is busy renovating it for us to live in—together! He is the sweetest man. He didn’t want me to have to choose between him and my father Bobby, who is confined to a wheelchair. Although our amazing live-in caregiver Lawrence loves Bobby and treats him so well, I felt guilty about leaving. In the end, my father was the one who convinced me to get out there and live my life. After all, I turn twenty-nine next week. And since I will literally be right next door, our little family circle stays intact. Morning coffee on the back deck with all three of my favorite guys—life just keeps getting better and better.

In addition to running my shop, preparing to move in with my boyfriend, and solving the occasional crime, I’ve got a new pastime: The Oakwood Mystery Book Club. Frankie Bright—we’ve been BFF’s since junior high and partners on more capers than I care to think about! Anyway, this new book club was her idea. She was in the Agathas with me when all that craziness went down last year. If it hadn’t been for her help, I might not have wriggled out of that situation in one piece.

Our new club will still focus on reading mysteries; female authors only, of course. But in addition, I somehow found myself agreeing to let the entire membership help me with my investigations. What was I thinking? As it turns out, the six of us each brings something unique to the table. And we’ve found that drawing inspiration from the books we’re reading helps us to crack cases. For example, Death on the Nile by Dame Agatha Christie centers on a deadly love triangle—but it’s not the triangle you think it is. That startling plot twist has got me wondering; could it be the key to a forty year old cold case?

Which brings me to the latest puzzle to land on my doorstep. Last week a tornado passed right over Oakwood! Everyone’s okay, but I was forced to take shelter in a creepy, dank access tunnel that runs from the stadium to the high school furnace room. While I was down there, I found a moldering backpack with a journal written entire in some sort of code. My father says it might belong to a girl named Regan. She was murdered forty years ago, and her boyfriend Carter went to prison for the crime. When another convict confessed, Carter was released. But when the convict recanted, a new pall of suspicion fell over Carter. He’s been living like a hermit in the old family house in West Oakwood ever since.

You might think that’s the end of it, but once again, you’d be dead wrong. First of all, a reporter named Berkeley’s been nosing around. He’s the one who unearthed that convict twenty years ago. He’s also been researching Regan’s murder for years, planning to write a true crime best seller. He actually swiped the journal right out of Old Hat’s back room! I’d asked a teenage pal to try to decode it; he and Marc helped me trap Berkeley and get the journal back. That reporter is a slippery one. He got me to agree to work with him on solving Regan’s case.

Here’s the thing: None of us believe Carter was guilty. And that convict? His story had more holes than Swiss cheese. So if neither one of them murdered Regan, who did? Is her killer still out there, walking the streets of Oakwood? Whatever happened to the fabulous sapphire necklace Regan stole right before she was killed? And now Berkeley’s disappeared, and someone’s been following my teenage code expert. It has to be connected, I’m certain of it.

Maybe this cold case isn’t so cold after all.


Leslie Nagel is the author of the USA Today and Amazon bestselling Oakwood Mystery Series. She lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. In addition to writing about murder, she also teaches writing at a local community college. After the written word, Leslie's passions include her husband, her son and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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