Monday, May 20, 2019


I'm excited to be a stop on the blog tour for
Book 4 in the Oakwood Book Club Mysteries
by Leslie Nagel

Amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter discovers a coded journal that could crack her small town’s most infamous cold case wide open in this charming cozy mystery from the USA Todaybestselling author of The Book Club Murders.
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.

A talk with Leslie Nagel

LKBR:  Thank you for being here today, Leslie!

LN: My pleasure, Lisa. Connecting with readers is one of the best things about being a writer. I wish I could do it more often.

LKBR: Please tell us a bit about THE CODEBOOK MURDERS and your cozy mystery series.

LN: This new book is the fourth installment in The Oakwood Book Club Mysteries. The series follows the adventures of amateur sleuth Charley Carpenter, a young vintage clothing shop owner. She’s a lifelong resident of Oakwood, a wealthy insular suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Since things can get a bit dull, she and a group of friends formed a book club in which they read nothing but murder mysteries--female authors only, please!

Charley’s semi-obsession with crime detection drew her into her first case, when someone close to her was killed. Not only that, but with the second killing in THE BOOK CLUB MURDERS case, she realized that someone was using scenes from her book club’s reading list to stage the crime scenes. When she took proof to the police, she reconnected with a high school crush, Detective Marcus Trenault. He also helps her to solve cases—without becoming the next victim.

THE CODEBOOK MURDERS begins with a tornado that drives Charley into a creepy tunnel under the football stadium. She discovers a long-lost coded journal belonging to Regan Fletcher, a high school girl murdered forty years before. Her boyfriend Carter was convicted of the crime, but he never stopped protesting his innocence. When Charley and her gang start investigating and a nosy reporter is killed, it’s clear this case is far from cold.
The ladies of The Oakwood Mystery Club draw inspiration from classic mysteries to solve baffling crimes. With each case, Charley’s skills and reputation as a sleuth—as well as her relationship with Marcus—continue to flourish.

LKBR: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

LN: One of the first things to know about me is that Oakwood is a real place, and I am a lifelong resident! I’ve been fascinated with mysteries since growing up on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Setting my series right here, placing scenes in real locations, in fact, the idea for the series in the first place—all of it grew out of a lifetime of observing the suburban landscape. It’s a jungle out here, folks.

Visitors to my website should definitely check out the “Crime Scene Safari” page. I’ve posted photos from around Oakwood with snippets of text where they’re mentioned in the books. It’s a quick and fun way to grab a sneak peek into Charley’s adventures.

I came to writing a bit later in life, mostly because I was too busy! I’ve had a number of different careers, raised a family, gone back to school. And yet, the desire to write was always there, quietly simmering in the back of my mind. Now that I’ve taken the plunge, it has quickly become a passion.

What do I love most about being a writer? I love the freedom of setting my own schedule, the creative outlet (difficult to find in most of my former jobs), the opportunity to talk with readers about what they find in my stories, and of course, researching obscure methods for murdering someone. I sincerely hope Homeland Security never has cause to poke into my search history . . .

LKBR: Any hints or spoilers you can give us about your next book?

LN: I am currently writing the fifth book in the series, about a poison garden and a woman who is murdered in front of sixty witnesses. Researching poisons has been an interesting journey. I have a friend who’s an ER nurse; she has provided me with some pretty gruesome details that may—or may not!—make their way into the final mystery.

However, one thing is certain; Charley can’t do it alone. She will have to rely on her Book Club friends, as well as Marcus, to help her catch a bold and desperate killer before an innocent man pays the ultimate price.

LKBR: Have you ever written a scene that you loved but had to remove it for the sake of the story?

LN: What a timely question! In fact, for THE CODEBOOK MURDERS, I originally had a prequel chapter set 15 years in the past. Readers of the series will know that Charley’s faithful sidekick and best friend since 7th grade is a girl named Frankie. In the prequel, the girls—currently aged 13--have gathered for a slumber party. Naturally, ghost story time rolls around.

The favorite story of all is the tragic tale of Regan Fletcher, murdered 40 years ago on Homecoming Night of her senior year by her boyfriend Carter. The young girls squeal and shiver, but young Charley is already a budding sleuth. She has some hard questions about the case, things that simply don’t add up. The others tease her, but as they fall asleep, Charley stares up at the ceiling. And she wonders.

This bonus chapter will be available to readers who enter my Crack the Code contest on my website! Solve the coded message, send me the solution, and I will send you the prequel. Anyone participating will also be entered in a drawing for some pretty sweet prizes.

LKBR: Have you ever gotten reader’s block? Just find it hard to get into reading because you are so into your writing?

The biggest barricade between me and my favorite pastime isn’t reader’s block; it’s writer’s guilt. I constantly feel as if I should be writing. I always have a project in the works, and that project is always on my mind. Even if I’ve just finished editing a final draft, my work in progress is calling my name.

Procrastination is not the issue. In fact, I have the opposite problem. One of my defining personal characteristics is my obsession with organization. Call me Queen of Lists. Even though my children are grown and gone, I still color code the family calendar. While I do get a whole lot done, it also means that I never feel “entitled” to gear down and read. I should really work on that.

LKBR: Is there anything you would give up if you thought it would make you an even better writer?

LN: I teach college level English Composition. I love teaching, but sometimes my focus on the more formalized aspects of teaching English can interfere with my creative individual efforts. Standard written English is critically important to master, but the rules of fiction are . . . more like guidelines, to quote the pirate movies.
I find that I have to consciously “turn off” some of the rules when I am writing. Paragraphing, dialogue, use of adverbs, passive voice—all of these elements are used differently in formal essay writing, business reporting, journalism, and fiction, not to mention poetry.
Would I give it up to be a better writer? Yes, IF I had to. However, so far I have managed to juggle both careers. We’ll see what the future holds.

LKBR: If you could ask your readers 3 questions, what would they be?

:1.  Writers of series always plant little bits of backstory about previous books, so that anyone can pick up and enjoy any installment without feeling lost. How important is all of that backstory to you? Or, if you start with Book 1 and go along through each installment, do you find all the repetition annoying?

2.  How important do you think a romantic interest is for a main character?

3. Do you try to “solve” the mystery before the end, or do you prefer to be surprised by the solution?

LKBR: Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books? 

Social media links:
Website: REVIEW


LKBR: Thank you so much, Leslie, for letting us get to know you better!

LN: You are most welcome. And I hope to see many of your readers’ solutions to the coded message I’ve hidden on my website. The bonus prequel chapter really is a lot of fun. Amateur sleuths, this is your chance to strut your stuff!



This was my first book in the Oakwood Mysteries. While I’m sure many would say they can be read as standalones, and I’m sure they can be, I found myself feeling like the last person joining a conversation. I could keep up with what was going on, but still felt like I was missing information.

With that being said, THE CODEBOOK MURDERS was an intriguing mystery. There were many twisty little turns to lead readers down wrong paths. Just when I was sure of the who in the dunit, the reveal shot me down. I think author Leslie Nagel would have had the great Holmes himself perplexed.

I do have to say, I didn’t care for series lead, Charley Carpenter. I found she could be a little annoying. This may be due to my late entry into the series. I do intend to read the first book in the series because I would like to see just how Charley and the rest of the characters start out.

If you’re a returning fan, I feel it safe to say you will enjoy THE CODEBOOK MURDERS. If you’re new to the series, I personally would suggest you start with the first book, THE BOOK CLUB MURDERS.


About the Author

Leslie Nagel is a writer and teacher of writing at a local community college. Her debut novel, “The Book Club Murders”, is the first in the Oakwood Mystery Series. Leslie lives in the all too real city of Oakwood, Ohio, where murders are rare but great stories lie thick on the ground. After the written word, her passions include her husband, her son, and daughter, hiking, tennis and strong black coffee, not necessarily in that order.

Author Links Website – 

Purchase Links 

Amazon B&NKoboGoogle Play 


May 20 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 20 – I'm All About Books – GUEST POST
May 22 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
May 23 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
May 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
May 24 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW
May 25 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
May 26 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW
May 27 – Mallory Heart's Cozies – REVIEW
May 28 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 29 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST
May 30 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT
May 31 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 1 – Elizabeth McKenna’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 2 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

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  1. Thank you for the great interview with Leslie Nagel and for introducing me to a new to me author. Appreciate your being part of the book tour for THE CODEBOOK MURDERS and for your review, which tells me this is a book that I would love the opportunity to read.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. Welcome today. 1. I like the little bits of backstory in a series. For me it brings back a lot of what happened in previous books and that is helpful. 2. I think it all depends on the romantic interest of the main character. I have read a few books where the romantic interest was not the main character and it was a wonderful new journey. 3. I have recently started reading cozies. But the few I have read, yes I take the facts I know and try to figure things out early. LOL But yes I also like to be surprised by the ending.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  3. Great interview. New to me author & series. Going on my tbr list