The spacious Manhattan apartment was like a central meeting place for the group of friends who had all moved to the city around the same time. Within their group were members of a band called Deep Six. The three actual residents of the apartment were Denny Minehart, Craig Shellady, and Susan Gabriel. Others who came and went freely were Noah and Rya Mash and Ray Reschley.

On a morning in May, another friend, Alice Ellis, had stopped by to water the plants, as Susan had gone out of town to the Adirondacks for a mini-vacation. But when Alice entered the apartment, she was stunned to find Denny and Craig dead…murdered, apparently.

Duplicate Keys was a story set sometime in the 1980s, and the interesting aspect of it was how relaxed and even careless were the friends in this drama, apparently lending out keys to anyone and everyone. There had been discoveries of complete strangers to the core group having a copy of the keys.

Alice was an interesting character, the primary narrator of the story. Divorced, she still wondered constantly what had gone wrong in the marriage. She considered Susan to be her best friend, but throughout the novel, Susan seemed to be cold, aloof, and even condescending with Alice, apparently seeing their friendship in an entirely different way.

Detective Honey was the police detective, and his way of trying to solve the case seemed strange to those whose lives were most affected. Did he know more than he was letting on? Did he have any suspects? And why did he keep suggesting to Alice that she change her locks? She hadn’t lived in the apartment with all the duplicate keys.

It didn’t take long for me to decide on the most likely culprit, and at some point, Alice arrived at the same conclusion. With the detective’s help, she was able to assist in bringing about the conclusion to the case in a fascinating manner.

The characters were like leftovers from the hippie era trying to be laidback and living the artistic dream, but their behavior definitely put them in jeopardy. And Alice’s tendency to overthink things, while still arriving at erroneous conclusions, was a somewhat endearing quality, but also a little bit annoying. A well-written book that had me turning pages until the end. 4.5 stars.


  1. Hmm. I hadn’t realized that Jane Smiley had written a murder mystery of sorts. I’m rather interested as she is usually a good author! Her book A Thousand Acres really killed me — in a gripping dark way.


    • Yes, I was surprised to stumble upon it, Susan….when I enjoy an author, I often scroll through what else they’ve written.

      A Thousand Acres was my favorite…and I also have the movie. Thanks for stopping by.


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