The Craigslist Murders: A Satire
(Melville International Crime, 2011)
Brenda Cullerton’s The Craigslist Murders: A Satire is a fun metasatire, mocking the books that mock all supposedly shallow, rich urbanites. “Look at how crazy rich people are! Look at all this crap they buy! See how detached they are from reality?!” Cullerton enjoys herself, drawing elements from this anti-Park Avenue genre’s main ladies—Lauren Weisberger, Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus, Candace Bushnell, and their British counterpart, Sophie Kinsella. However, Cullerton adds a measure of depth to Charlotte Wolfe, the sexy, dangerous main character, by flawing her with a childhood secret that creeps out one step at a time. The disturbing cause for Charlotte’s resentful relationship with her mother keeps it from becoming just another tale of a grown woman blaming all the problems of her adult life upon her mother, thirty years later.
Dropping labels and prices may give this novel a shelf life preclude it from becoming a classic. Then again, the same criticisms were made about The Bonfire of the Vanities, which has had a pretty good run. There are some rough transitions between settings in which one must re-read to realize that the passage has suddenly transported the reader back in time to a different event, but the book is an otherwise smooth, fun story, though perhaps a cautionary tale for any woman with ads currently up on Craigslist. Who’s really going to come and look at your vintage Van Cleef & Arpels cufflinks?
Cullerton’s inspiration came from redecorating her Connecticut weekend home entirely from Craigslist, causing us to wonder: does she identify more with the Park Avenue types with their country homes, or with a Craigslist customer who is tempted to murder upon setting foot inside a stranger’s home to haggle over the price of a vintage Eames ottoman or Tiffany & Co. candlesticks?
ContributorTatiaana L. Laine