The word Conundrum always reminds me of Jupiter Jones of The Three Investigators. Some associations are so set in our memories. Susan Cory’s Conundrum is a mystery that gets hot quickly. The reader is initially lulled into thinking this might be about a cold case, but the bodies start dropping pretty soon.
Like Erich Segal’s iconic book The Class, Conundrum has Harvard as the backdrop. Although there is not much about the campus as such, the setting is definitely Cambridge. No wonder since Susan Cory herself lives in Cambridge and is a Harvard graduate herself. The whole cast of our story is extremely erudite and successful, which is a nice change from reading about struggling authors or menopausal housewives.
Iris Reid is building an eco friendly home for former classmate and mega billionaire Norman Meeker. Norman wants to flaunt his new home and decides to throw a big dinner party on the eve of their 20th reunion. He wants all the design class to attend, along with their prima donna professor. Iris and friend Leila are still upset over a twenty year long tragedy, namely the demise of their friend at the graduation party. The girls have always believed that Carey was done in by one of the classmates. And they decide to use the reunion to find out who. At this point, the title ‘reunion’ seemed more appropriate for the book.
Iris’s cheating ex from college wants to meet with her before the big dinner. He never shows up and the police disrupt the party with news of his death. Iris is suspect number one, and in a big fix. Now it is even more important for Iris to solve the murders if she is to prove her innocence. There will be many twists and turns before the truth is revealed.
Iris has a love interest in the form of a younger chef. There is some lighter aspect to the book around great food and wine at the chef’s restaurant and the interaction between Iris and Luc. There are many characters who are interlinked. Conundrum flows smoothly like some award winning vintage wine, and it is over a bit too soon. The story is engrossing and holds your attention. The book seems smaller in length but that could be because you don’t realize how fast you are turning the pages.
I definitely look forward to seeing more of Iris Reid. Conundrum is a classic example of how human nature hardly ever changes. The characters are insecure inspite of being highly intelligent and successful. Peer pressure and public opinion does matter to them. And the hankering for praise and recognition drives them to heinous crimes. Susan Cory has captured this with success in her book.
Conundrum is a well balanced mystery with a not too dysfunctional heroine. I loved reading the book and I know you will too. Wholeheartedly recommended for mystery lovers!