SUSAN KANDEL. Shamus in the Green Room, 2006.
      —, Christietown, 2007.


   Cece Caruso, a biographer of mystery writers and an amateur sleuth, after cases involving research connected with her biographies of Erie Stanley Gardner and the writers of the Nancy Drew series, turns her attention to Dashiell Hammett and Agatha Christie.

   In Shamus, after her biography of Hammett has been published to some acclaim, she’s hired by the producer of a new film about Hammett to tutor the actor who will play the writer/detective.

   In my reviews of the two earlier books I noted that that Cece was often as much concerned about her clothes as her sleuthing, but that’s definitely not true this time. There’s an occasional sign of Cece’s clothes buying addiction, but the focus is definitely on the Hammett connection and the novel is all the stronger for it.


   Christietown is something of a return to the clothes conscious Cece of the first two books, but she’s having some trouble finishing her biography of Christie, bogging down in the puzzling segment of Christie’s life that, in 1926, found her fleeing her marriage and the subject of a week-long manhunt that received extraordinary media coverage.

   Eventually, her breakthrough in understanding this facet of Christie’s life also leads to a breakthrough in her understanding of the murders connected with a real estate development, a Christietown that is attempting to recreate a village from Christie’s era in the Mojave desert.

   This is currently one of my favorite series and while there’s no teaser for a fifth novel, I’m hoping that’s not a sign that the series has ended.

   Bibliographic data:


I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason. William Morrow, hc, May 2004. Avon, pb, March 2005.


Not a Girl Detective. Willliam Morrow, hc, May 2005. Avon, pb, March 2006.

Shamus in the Green Room. William Morrow, hc, May 2006. Avon, pb, May 2007.

Christietown. Harper, trade pb, May 2007. Avon, pb, June 2008.


[UPDATE]   The chances that there will be more books in the series are awfully slim, or so it seems. You can find Susan Kandel’s website here, but only the four books are mentioned, and her calendar of events is all but empty after June of this year.   — Steve

[UPDATE #2]  11-18-08.  Good news, straight from Susan Kandel herself:

  Hi Steve,

   Thanks for the note — there is indeed a fifth Cece book, called Vertigo a Go Go, which will be out early next fall (2009), again from Harper. I took a year off to rest (!), but the series continues! I think the problem is I haven’t updated my website in years (literally), and I’m planning to get to that this fall so readers have a sense of what’s coming up for me.

All best