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Tuesday, May 31st 2005

10:17 AM

THE MUSIC BOX MURDERS by Larry Karp

 

Larry Karp spins a wonderful story in The Music Box Murders. In this the first of his Music Box Murder books Karp introduces Thomas Purdue. Purdue purchases a rare music box in which he later finds out was in a collection of a follow collector who is now dead. The box was in the collectors possession as early as the day before Purdue's purchase. Purdue and his good friend a collector and restorer of music boxes begin to become suspicious of the music box's recent history. Just as they begin to become suspicious his friend is murdered. The murderer seams to follow Purdue all over New York and then to England taking out collectors and dealers as he gets closer to the truth. As Purdue searches he manages to get himself and his friends involved in the seeder side of these fantastically valuable and technical antiques.

Karp creates an interesting cast of characters who provide humor and depth to the story. Purdue's relationship with his wife is perhaps the most interesting I've come upon in any mystery. His marital joys and problems are real and Karp gives the relationship a twist which makes you care about the relationship and makes for an interesting read. His first crack at solving a mystery and Purdue is quite good at it. He bumbles a bit, but begins to get the hang of it towards the end of the mystery. At one point he muses "Nothing about this entire situation seemed to make sense. But everything makes sense, everything in the world. If it seems not to, that's only because we're looking at it in the wrong way or from the wrong point of view." Once Purdue discovers this truth the mystery moves rapidly toward the end, he quickly sets a plan in motion to catch the killer. The book comes to a climax when Purdue devise a clever plan to reveal the killer's identity. Karp adds a bit of zip and solves some extra mysteries at the end as well. Karp skillfully lays out the motive, means and methods of the theft and killings in a chapter long wrap up. I was quite pleased to have this laid out for me in such a entertaining fashion. Other authors often assume you've picked up on all the clues and along with them share the secret to how the crime happened. True to his ability to tell a good story Karp laid it all out for me with out leaving anything hidden and with out insulting my intelligence. In the end he had me wishing for more stories about music boxes. I'll happily follow the adventures of Dr. Thomas Purdue in Karp's other music box books Scamming of the Bird Man and Midnight Special. I'm also looking forward to reading Karp's upcoming book based on a "puzzling real-life occurrence that took place in 1899." Visit Larry Karp's web site at www.larrykarp.com.

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