Heart-Shaped Box: A Claire Montrose Mystery

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9780060196554: Heart-Shaped Box: A Claire Montrose Mystery

Amateur sleuth Claire Montrose gets more than she bargained for when she attends her twenty-year high school reunion and a secret admirer sends her a heart-shaped box marked with death, and she must uncover an elusive killer.

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Review:

"YOU ARE INVITED TO THE MINOR HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 1979 REUNION... BE THERE OR BE SQUARE." When Claire Montrose first reads the invitation, she reacts with a grimace (who wouldn't?). But while some things have changed since 1979, Claire, the curious, self-conscious heroine of April Henry's previous Circles of Confusion and Square in the Face, is still tall, thin, smart, and young-looking for her years. Deciding to flaunt the traits that kept her low on the high school social pecking order 20 years ago--and also show off her gorgeous Manhattan art curator boyfriend, Dante--Claire sends in her acceptance.

But the reunion weekend's first mystery crops up when Claire and Dante check in at Ye Olde Pioneer Village. Someone has left Claire a little heart-shaped box with a picture of her teenage self inside. And the first few drinks of the reunion icebreaker party have barely been downed when Cindy Sanchez, former head cheerleader and Minor High good-time girl, is found strangled in the parking lot, with another heart-shaped box in her hand.

As usual when she's faced with a puzzle, Claire's brain goes into overdrive. The chief of police (another old classmate) arrests a hotel employee who's found with Cindy's ATM card. Suspicion also falls on Claire's old friend Logan West, who's spent most of the intervening years in a mental hospital. But Claire doesn't think either man is guilty. Plenty of men might have found an excuse to slip out for a few minutes of auld lang syne with Cindy: Wade, her ex-boyfriend from senior year; Jim, Claire's own high-school flame; Richard, the class geek, now a high-tech millionaire; even Cindy's jealous, possibly estranged husband, Kevin. But none of them will admit to it. As the now-subdued weekend continues, Claire tries to narrow down her short list of could-have-done-its, knowing that she and the five other remaining women who received boxes may be in the killer's sights.

Though the clues--both real and false--are numerous and contradictory enough to seem a bit confusing, the murderer may not come as a big surprise to anyone who's read a few mysteries. Yet Heart-Shaped Box goes down as smoothly as chocolate. Just as Claire, with her kind heart, her little insecurities, and her one-glance perceptiveness and humor, appears to be gaining confidence and relaxing into her tentative relationship with Dante, so April Henry is relaxing into this ever-more-appealing series. --Barrie Trinkle

About the Author:

April Henry lives with her husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, where she works in corporate communications. Heart-Shaped Box is her third Claire Montrose mystery, after Circles of Confusion, which was nominated for the Agatha and Anthony Awards for Best First Novel, and Sqaure in the Face.

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April Henry
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