Alice Ellis is a librarian in her thirties, who lives in Broadway during the eighties. She followed her friends, a rock band led by they dreams and hopes to New York City. Unfortunately, their only brief glimpse at success happened five years before and no producer has been interested in them since.

One day, Alice makes a ghastly discovery after entering her friends’ apartment: Denny, the guitarist of the band and Craig, the singer, have been shot in the head. The door hasn’t been broken but this does not narrow down the list of potential suspects much: Denny and Susan (Denny’s girlfriend and Alice’s best friend) had given away many duplicate keys to friends and relatives, who had in turn lent them to others.

For the circle of friends, the double-murder comes as an absolute shock. As a police detective, Sergeant Honey, pries into their lives to find the murderer, Alice comes to realize that she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought… More than a test of friendship, the murder and its aftermath will make Alice and the reader question if there is a life for her beyond her circle of friends…

I liked Duplicate Keys, even though I found the mobile of the murder unconvincing. It kept my interest until the end though and I found it very suspenseful even though there were more dialogs than action. I liked the fact that the story focused on Alice and her relationships with the various protagonists rather than on the investigation itself, which helped keep the reader in the dark. I had never read any Jane Smiley’s novels before, and I understand that this is her first and only mystery so far. Not the best mystery I have ever read, it has however the merit to be original and compelling…

Rating: 3,5/5