The Heart-Shaped Box

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( 111 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060196554: The Heart-Shaped Box

The inimitable Claire Montrose is back, and as delightful as ever, in this third installment of April Henry's acclaimed mystery series. Claire wasn't part of the in-crowd at Minor High. In fact, she didn't have many friends at all, spending most of her time outside school tolling at Pietro's Pizza. Yet when the invitation to her twenty-year high school reunion comes in the mail, she decides to go.

After all, Claire is no longer the girl she was in high school, the one who was too smart, too tall, too skinny, and who looked a lot younger than she was.

Now maybe all her old handicaps are actually to her advantage. Not only that, she has a hip boyfriend named Dante, and a windfall from an old painting she inherited that turned out to be a Vermeer. So Claire sets off to see old friends, old lovers -- and maybe even a few old enemies.

While checking into Ye Olde Pioneer Village for the weekend festivities, Claire receives a mysterious package containing a heart-shaped box. Inside is a high school yearbook picture of Claire. A gift from a secret admirer? Then another box turns up -- in the limp hand of Cindy Sanchez, the former head cheerleader who is found strangled in the parking lot.

Before the night is over, five more women reveal that they, too, have received heart-shaped boxes. Is there a mad killer on the loose who will claim them all before the reunion is over? Or was Cindy, who had more lovers -- and more enemies --than anyone else in school, the only one marked for murder?

In a tale combining equal parts suspense and humor, Claire and the Minor High Class of '79 suffer a reunion nightmare they won't soon forget, as Claire struggles to stop a killer -- before the killer stops her.

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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.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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