The Codebook Murders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

This is the fourth edition   in The Oakwood Series of mystery books. It works well as a standalone.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the codebook angle. I have not come across this idea in a mystery series before now, and I thought it was a clever idea.  I also enjoyed the plot and the characters; however, there were a few things I didn't like:

The book seemed to really drag in the beginning, and because of that, it took me longer than usual to finish reading it.  While I often enjoy reading on weekend afternoons after  the things I need to do are taken care of, I found that I was slogging through  the relationship stuff, and I was bored. There wasn't much action.  Which brings me to my other complaint: the main character,  Charley, has a boyfriend, Marc,  who is fixing up the house next door to her father  for them to live in together. While there weren't any graphic sex scenes, there is sexual innuendo, an instance of Charley leading Marc  to the bedroom, removing each other's clothing, talk about sex,  and things like that in the book. I know, because I am often asked about the presence of this kind of thing that I'm not the only one who would like to see the cozy mysteries remain free of it. If authors want to throw in scenes like this, they should write for another market.

Overall, the book was okay, and the mystery was neatly wrapped up in the end.
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A murder from Oakwood’s history resurfaces during a terrifying storm, and brings new clues and dead bodies in it’s wake! This is the third book from the Oakwood mystery series that I’ve read and it is the fourth in the series. It is a bit different than the others, but just as fun. I love seeing Charley back on my kindle—she is a delight to read about! And this one has that great mix of cold case and current case that was so intriguing. I definitely recommend The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel to all cozy mystery lovers!

Charley Carpenter is forced underground—literally—when a tornado hits the town of Oakwood and she finds herself in the tunnels under the local high school. While down there, she discovers a backpack with a strange journal in it—covered in sunflowers and filled with coded entries. The journal is linked to a local cold case, the murder of Regan Fletcher has haunted Oakwood for decades and this journal is quite clearly Regan’s, hidden the night she was murdered.

Though Regan’s boyfriend Carter was originally convicted of the crime, another man’s confession freed him. Only it becomes clear that man didn’t kill Regan either… But who did? Was it really Carter after all? Or did a murder walk free all of those decades? Charley takes on the case with the members of the Oakwood Mystery Book Club and a few local teens. But the more they uncode of Regan’s diary, the more troubling the young woman’s story becomes… What was Regan up to that led to her death?

As the dead bodies begin to pile up, Charley and her friends feel even more urgency to solve the case and prevent the murderer from taking any more lives. But what if the truth is already lost forever?

These Leslie Nagel books are so much fun! I think she is one of the better cozy mystery authors at not letting the mystery get lost in the cozy town and character development as so many authors do. We learn a bit more about Charley and her friends’ lives, but it truly all is backseat to the mystery at hand. She’s also great about not spoiling the other books, so you can truly jump in at any point!

Charley is so SPUNKY and fun, just as I remember her from the other books. She pulls some pretty gutsy moves in this one, including finding a way to trick herself entrance into a suspects’ house (I won’t spoil the how but I got a great laugh out of her hijinks) and setting a social media trap for a thief! I really adore Charley and her friends and family. We saw a bit less of her father, vintage shop, and boyfriend in this book, but more of the high school sleuths and her book club friends. 

Leslie Nagel always provides that nice balance where we learn more about the town in each book. This one focuses heavily on the high school and the students, past and present. We also got to know a few of Charley’s former teachers!

A fun mystery with a historical throwback and a coded journal that will delight readers! Thank you to Random House for my copy. Opinions are my own.
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Will the coded journal lead to who killed Regan Fletcher?
The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel is a spectacular cold case mystery filled with jealousy, secrets, and an old family feud. I adored the entire story from the Nancy Drew references to the individual suspects and the cunning sleuth and her mystery club participates. What a superb tale.

Charley Carpenter, our sleuth
Charley Carpenter is our sleuth, at least the main sleuth. She runs a vintage store and lives with her father and his caregivers. However, she is also part of a Mystery (book) Club. At least it started as a book club, but now it is a bit more. Anyway, Charley has this unique mind that sees the discrepancies in the different versions of the witness statements. She is also courageous and capable of taking care of herself.

Charley is a fabulous character that seems to handle everything that has been tossed at her quite well. I enjoyed getting to know her and everyone that help her solve the crime.

This book starts with a forty-year-old cold case. Charley, while running for shelter from a tornado, takes refuge in a high school utility tunnel along with the school’s janitor and a student, Katie. There Charley trips and finds an old backpack with a journal inside. She isn’t able to get a good look at it as the janitor takes the bag away from her. Charley, however, holds onto the journal to examine when she is safe.

The journal seems to belong to Regan Fletcher, a high school student from the 1970s that was murdered. Charley, with the help of her friends, is able to decode the journal and solve the old murder. Ya, well kind of, but not that easy as there is a code within the code. In the meantime, there is another murder and kidnapping, which are probably all connected or are they?

5 Stars for The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel
My rating for The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel is five stars. The mystery is detailed, and the sleuths are wonderfully developed that I loved it all. This a series to keep an eye on that is for sure. There is just the right about of pop culture, literary culture, and real mystery, making it superb.

I recommend this book to all the cozy mystery readers out there. 

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy from the Great Escapes Book Tours. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed this review of The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel.

Anyways, until next time, 
Karen the Baroness
Happy Reading

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I read the first book in this series and now the fourth. A lot has happened in between and even though I had no problem following this story, I will go back and read #2 and #3 to see what has happened in Oakwood and how Charley's and Marc's relationship has grown and changed.

The story started off with a bang. A twister has touched down in Oakwood, Ohio and Charley, our protagonist finds herself in a tunnel between the high school sports field and the school itself. With the school janitor. Merritt Vance, and a young neighbour Katie, they head down the tunnel to the school. Along the way, Charley finds a backpack in a drain containing a journal that just happens to be written in code. When young Katie posts an instagram post about the journal and the fact that they think it might have belonged to a young lady who was murdered many years ago, the book is stolen and Charley's father's home is burgled.

The characters are well-developed. There is Charley's family and loved ones who are a huge part of her life. She would do whatever she needs to in order to protect them, then there are her co-workers and fellow book club members who add some humour and quirkiness. I love the small town feel where everyone helps each other out and knows what is happening in town. This was a fun mystery that was actually trying to solve a cold case. The murdered girl's boyfriend was imprisoned for killing her, but it seems he might just be innocent. It is no surprise when Charley, her boyfriend and ex-detective Marc, and the Oakwood Mystery Book Club gang start looking into things and interviewing people. What they find are longtime hostilities between families and love triangles along with theft, murder, blackmail and kidnapping. This one will have you flipping the pages to find out who was behind the murder of Regan and who is trying to shut them down. I always like a mystery that I can not solve and this one measured up nicely. My only issue was that Charley seems to be given free rein from the police to investigate and solve this case, with very little concern or interference from the police. With that being my only problem, I give this cozy mystery 4.5 stars.
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I really enjoyed this next installment of The Oakwood Mystery series. In this book, Charley and her friends are investigating a 40-year-old cold case murder. As they find more clues and talk to the townspeople, people they know and (many they) like, they uncover secrets and buried emotions from long ago. The story is interesting and I'm liking and connecting more with the characters with each book in the series. And the author brings in Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew, which makes me love it even more! Thank you to Alibi and Netgalley for the review copy!
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The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel returns us to Oakwood, Ohio.  Charley Carpenter is on her way home from the wine store, when the siren rings out notifying residents of a twister.  Charley sees Katie O’Malley walking in the rain, picks her up and heads for shelter at the nearby school complex.  Merritt Vance, the Oakwood High School janitor, hustles them into the underground tunnel just before the tornado touches down.  When Charley drops her phone, she discovers a backpack with a journal inside.  Charley later learns the book belonged to Regan Fletcher who was murdered in the late 1970s.  Regan’s death still plagues the town’s detectives.  Carter Magellan, Regan’s boyfriend, did time for the crime until another man confessed.  But then he recanted before passing away.  Charley is hoping Regan’s journal will provide clues that will finally solve this mystery, but first they must decode it.  With the able assistance of the Park Avenue Irregulars, they learn that Regan collected secrets and then exacted payment from her victims.  Charley along with the newly formed Oakwood Mystery Club set out to question their new list of suspects and solve this twisty whodunit.  Things get hairy when the journal is stolen, the Carpenter home is ransacked and one of Charley’s sleuthing partners disappears.  Charley intends to get answers once and for all so this crime can finally put to rest.

The Codebook Murders is the fourth novel in The Oakwood Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not read the previous books in this series.  Charley loves a good mystery and is looking forward to the first book club meeting of the Oakwood Mystery Club that evening.  Then a twister leaves devastation in its path and Charley finds herself with a real mystery on her hands.  She found the journal of Reagan Fletcher who was murdered forty years ago after the high school homecoming game.  The group is excited to solve the crime and are fortunate to get extensive records from reporter, Berkeley Dye.  The mystery was multifaceted with plenty of suspects and good clues.  New information keeps popping up during Charley’s investigation enhancing this complex conundrum.  The police do not mind that Charley and the gang dig into the case as long as they pass along any pertinent information.  I like the Nancy Drew references throughout the book including the mention of the old TV series (there was Hardy Boys show too).   There is a large cast of characters that include Charley, her boyfriend, her father, the father’s caretaker and his girlfriend, the book club plus their significant others, teachers, a janitor, neighbors, shopkeepers, police, and a couple of eager teens (whew).  I would have preferred a faster pace plus less duplication of case details and a smaller amount of speculation (these little tweaks would have elevated this cozy mystery).  The Codebook Murders has a special ending that will please readers.  My favorite phrase from the story is “. . . house isn’t a home unless there is love at its heart” (that is so sweet).  Cozy mystery readers will rejoice at the perplexing puzzle in The Codebook Murders.
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This Cozy is Action Packed! 
This is an action-packed and suspenseful cozy mystery. While it is tense, it will not cause me to have nightmares. This is the fourth in the series and the first that I have read. Now I want to go back and read the previous 3 books! The plot is tight, detailed and well planned. Having lived in towns of 10 thousand people and having lived through a tornado, I can say with some authority that this author is very authentic in her depiction. I plan on watching out for more books by this author. Applause all around! I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
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This was my first time reading a book by Leslie Nigel and I plan on catching up on the other 3 books. I found it to be a well written and paced mystery and I was engrossed from the very beginning. 

As the owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, Charley Carpenter supplies retro apparel to the residents of Oakwood, Ohio, but she’s been known to set business aside to play detective when a mystery rears its head. And there’s no bigger mystery in Oakwood than the murder of Regan Fletcher—a case that’s haunted the town for decades.

Regan’s boyfriend, Carter, did time for the crime—until another man’s confession freed him. But did the “real killer” really do it? Or did Carter walk away with blood on his hands? When Charley stumbles on an old journal written in code, it only complicates the case by revealing a blackmail scheme that targeted dozens of Oakwood’s citizens, giving them all a motive for murder. 

Now, with a spate of new suspects to pursue, plus a fresh murder and the abduction of her sleuthing partner, Charley must dig deeper still into the past—even as she risks being buried by her shadowy prey. Joining forces with Detective Marcus Trenault and the newly formed Oakwood Mystery Book Club, Charley turns to a classic whodunit for clues on catching a killer—before more lives are lost, and the truth dies with them.

There were intriguing characters, a small town setting, lots of plot twists, red herrings and plenty of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it.

I requested and received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Alibi. All thoughts and opinions are my OWN.
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A very good good cozy mystery that kept me hooked till the last page.
A book that I couldn't put down, a likeable cast of well written characters, and a well written and engaging plot.
It was a fast and fun read.
I look forward to reading other books in this series.
It's strongly recommended!
I received this arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange of a honest review.
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Charley Carpenter, Oakwood, Ohio's vintage shop owner/amateur sleuth, stumbles across a journal in a tunnel while escaping a tornado.   When her discovery is linked to the decades old murder of a high school cheerleader, Charley and her friends work together to determine if the wrong man was convicted of the crime, and as they decipher the clues hidden in the journal secrets are revealed that some residents of Oakwood would prefer stay hidden.  Leslie Nagel's The Codebook Murders was fun to read, very cozy, and I really enjoyed it.  A+++
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In Oakwood, Ohio, Regan Fletcher’s murder has been a case that has scarred the citizens for decades. Regan’s boyfriend, Carter, was sent to prison for it, until another man confessed and then later recanted his confession. After Carter was released, people never stopped believing he had something to do with it.
As a tornado struck the town, Charley Carpenter, owner of Old Hat Vintage Fashions, wound up in the tunnels under the high school. She found an old backpack containing a coded journal with information about Regan’s murder. Can she find the key to unraveling this cold case before another tornado of death sweeps the town?
I really loved this novel. It had all of the aspects of a great cozy mystery: intriguing characters, a plot full of twists and turns, a small town setting, and a likeable female amateur detective who doesn’t take the easy way out when confronted with a crime that affects the ones she loves. I was surprised about the identity of the culprit and the motive. I really can’t wait for Ms. Nagel’s next book. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and am voluntarily reviewing it.
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This is the 4th installment of the Oakwood mystery series.  Charley Carpenter lives in Oakwood Ohio and runs a vintage fashion shop.  Charley and Katie are caught in a tornado and take shelter at a school and while there she finds an old backpack with a book inside written in code.  The janitor yells at Charley and tells her to leave the backpack there.  She smuggles out the book and Charley and her Oakwood Mystery Book Club jump into action.  The book contains a reference to a famous cold case in their town.  The murder of Regan Fletcher.  Her boyfriend served 20 years in prison when someone else confessed but what really happened.  This was a fast paced mystery with so much heart.  Charley loves her family and friends.  I could easily see this series on Hallmark!
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Really good cozy mystery.  Strong, interesting characters, lots of twists and turns, an old mystery that becomes a current mystery, and a hidden notebook in code, what more could you want.
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The Codebook Murders, the latest entry into Leslie Nagel’s The Oakwood Mystery Series, is a solidly crafted mystery. The chronology and characters from the previous books remain mostly intact and the relationship between Charley Parker and Marc Trenault has deepened and stabilized, which I consider a positive.

The book opens with a tornado ripping through Oakwood forcing Charley and her passenger Katie O’Malley to seek safety in a high school tunnel with the aid of gruff Merritt Vance, a long time janitor with the school system. While in the tunnel, Charley comes across an old backpack which holds something unexpected: a journal written entirely in code. Who it belonged to and what is written in the journal is the first part of the mystery. The second part of the mystery is solving a forty year old cold case involving the murder of an 18 year old high school cheerleader. Charley, aided by Marc, her book club and her gang of high school investigators, the Irregulars. 

There are components of this book that make it worth recommending.  There are several viable suspects which means the murder isn’t too easy to solve. There is also an intriguing use of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, which fits in perfectly with Charley’s murder club. What I didn’t care for as much is how openly Charley investigated, with no apparent resistance form the police nor Marc. Much worse, the teenagers played a much too active part in the investigation for my taste. Their level of involvement made me uncomfortable. Though Charley thinks she won’t put them in danger, there is a murderer on the loose and there is no way that can be deemed safe for anyone. I also felt the book dragged a bit.

This is an okay read for those who like cozy mysteries or are fans of the Oakwood Mystery series. Three stars.

I was given a free copy of this by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions stated are solely my own.
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I have never heard of this author before but thanks to NetGalley I have discovered some great new authors. If you want murder mystery with an old flame, look no further.
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Who would expect a backpack with a coded notebook would contain the answer to a 40 year old murder?  A tornado in Oakwood stirred up a lot, including the notebook, which Charley found and then, with the help of her friend, decoded.  Carter went to prison for murdering Reagan, another man later confessed, but now all that appears to be off the table.  The charm of this series is in the characters, including Charley, of course, but also her boyfriend Marc, a former detective, her dad, his caregiver, and Charley's friends.  Charley becomes a target when she publicizes what she found (there's lot of secrets others don't want out) so she, along with her crew, have to find the truth.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Some twists, some turns, and a nice read.
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The Codebook Murders is the fourth book in author Leslie Nagle’s Oakwood Book Club  Mystery series.  Caught in a treacherous thunderstorm, Charley Carpenter and Irregulars member Katie O’Malley take refuge under the high school arch, but as the storm amps up, custodian Merrill Vance whisks them into the building.  When the tornado siren sounds, they quickly go into the cellar tunnel to escape the powerful storm.  While in this basement they also run into Katie’s fellow student PJ Konduro.

Once the lights go out and the storm rages above, the group uses their phone flashlights to negotiate the tunnel.  Charley trips on something in the dark and her phone goes skittering across the floor to land in a puddle, instantly losing power.  The item that trips her appears to be a dark backpack which seems to hold a journal of some sort.  When Mr. Vance gets irate and tells Charley to leave the backpack, it’s school property, she conceals the journal.

Once the storm passes, they leave the building through the main entrance, circling back to check on Charley’s van.  They find it buried in bricks with quite a bit of damage.  Without wheels, they walk back towards Charley’s house, with Katie parting ways when they get to her house and find her mother home.

Charley finds a bit of tree damage at her home, but her loved ones are fine, and that’s what really counts.  In telling her dad, his assistant Lawrence, and her boyfriend Marc Trenault, she also tells them about the journal.  From the entries on the first page, they suspect the journal had belonged to Regan Fletcher, a high school student who had been murdered 40 years ago.  The main problem is that Regan had written the journal completely in code.  No one was able to decipher it, but PJ had some ideas.  He photographed the pages so he could work on the translation on his own time.

What ensues is a whirlwind of intrigue.  With longtime hostilities between families and love triangles at the root of the mystery, theft, murder, kidnaping, and breaking and entering in the present, and a cadre of people working with Charley to solve the mystery of the codebook, the reader is in for a wonderful adventure! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I do recommend it!
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Charley Carpenter is heading home with one of the local teenagers during a storm. When the tornado alarms go off, she takes shelter under the archway of the school. The maintenance man pulls them into the shed and underground tunnels for safety. While going to the main building Charley trips and discovers a backpack. It's contents belong to a student who was murdered 40 years earlier. including a handwritten coded notebook that opens Charley's book club into a new mystery to solve.

This was a solid story with a nice cast of characters, and trail of clues that left me guessing until the end of the book. 

I found it very hard to believe that the local police chief and department would willing share information on an open investigation with a private citizen, even if she was the boyfriend of one of their ex-detectives, or simply because she had helped them in the past.

I did notice several editing errors. When I contacted the author, she stated for me not to tell her anymore, as it was the publishers problem. I don't know if she just didn't care, or if she had been inundated with comments from other readers. I also contacted the publisher about said error and  I never received a reply from them.
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This book is the 4th installment in the series, but I was able to enjoy it as a stand-alone story.  The action starts in the first chapter and keeps going to the very end. I loved all the twists and turns, especially the reveal of the murderer and other small mysteries they solve along the way. If you are looking for a quick read with a different premise, in this case a coded journal, I highly recommend it. I will be going back to the first book in the series to see how the characters have developed.
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I'd give 'The Codebook Murders' 10 stars if I could.  The latest in Leslie Nagel's The Oakwood Mystery Series is gripping from page one and moves with a quick and satisfying pace through the whole book.  The characters are engaging and likeable, without contrived angst.  I appreciated the supportive relationships of the characters and enjoy visiting Oakwood and its environs.  This mystery had me guessing until the very end and is a perfect addition to a wonderful series. I can't wait for more!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.  The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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