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Duplicate Keys
Jane Smiley
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Duplicate Keys

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,420 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Alice Ellis is a Midwestern refugee living in Manhattan. Still recovering from a painful divorce, she depends on the companionship and camaraderie of tightly knit circle of friends. At the center of this circle is a rock band struggling to navigate New York’s erratic music scene, and an apartment/practice space with approximately fifty key-holders. One sunny day, Alice ent ...more
Audio, 0 pages
Published by Recorded Books, LLC (first published February 12th 1984)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,175)
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mark monday
literary author Jane Smiley does a murder mystery, which is cause enough for interest. the central character is fascinatingly and realistically deluded in her understanding of the events unfolding around her and in her lack of comprehension of the inner character of her lifelong friends. this is much more of a slow-burning character study and a depiction of an emotionally intricate set of relationships than a suspense-filled mystery. however, the sequence in which the heroine finally finds herse ...more
The protagonist reminds me very much of the protagonist of A Thousand Acres; unable to discern the motives of others, unable to see anything but the best in people, and willing to twist herself into origami shapes in order to create a truth that allows everyone else to be a good person. I'm not sure if I dislike her because she's unlikeable or if it's because she reminds me of parts of myself I dislike.

It's interesting to see the template of Smiley's character development overlain on a murder my
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I just finished Jane Smiley's Duplicate Keys, a mysterious story of murder, betrayal, and life in 1980 New York City. The story follows a group of friends, a few of them in a band, from the Midwest who come to NYC seeking their piece of the rock n' roll pie. The group has moderate success and receives lukewarm reviews, but the members trudge on obsessing over their next great song, lyric, review, connection. Two of the band members are found in their apartment dead by Alice, a friend outside the ...more
This was one of my take-along books for the trip to Destin. I couldn't exactly spend all my time reading Stratford Caldecott and T4G books, could I?!? So I picked up a few small paperbacks from the library. I have read other books by this author, and I thought this might provide a pleasant diversion. Instead, it was a tedious muddle of psychological drama and thriller. Two men are killed and a longtime friend is trying to make sense of it all. The main character was insipid and self-questioning, ...more
Smiley's style is so readable that I enjoyed the book in spite of the fact that I spent the first half arguing with it. As I turned the pages (and I did keep turning the pages), I kept saying to myself, this is not how real people act. The book begins with a murder, and all the friends spend the days following talking about how "amazing" it is and arguing about whether one of the victims was destined to die young anyway. They ate a lot, too. I lived through a freind's murder, and we were all in ...more
Candy Wood
Right away I was struck by how dated this 1984 novel seems. The focalizing character, Alice, explains to the police detective how she found two bodies when she let herself into her friend Susan's New York apartment to water plants while Susan was away, and how she had to walk to find a functioning phone to call the police. Cell phones would have been useful at several points in the plot. Alice is not a particularly engaging character or reliable observer, so that being limited to her perspective ...more
Dec 20, 2014 Linden rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adult readers
Recommended to Linden by: the author's other work.

Alice Ellis discovers the murder of two men, members of her circle of six who all moved to New York City from Minnesota. The story primarily focuses on the effects of that event on the lives of others, rather than discovery of the perpetrator, though that is uncovered.

I'm a fan of Smiley's other work, such as A Thousand Acres and others, but her style seemed at odds with this story. Maybe it was that Keys didn't have the usual pace, structure or style of a traditional mystery, though I did love
This novel is about how a group of friends react to the murders of two of their own. While there is the mystery of who done it, the story was much more about how friendships and relationships are affected by the tragedy. I had a hard time getting into the story. I did not like any of the characters and I could not relate to them or their issues. While it is well written, it moved much to slowly for me and I found my self getting bored and wanting to take a break from it. The author does a good j ...more
Jane Smiley's books seem to have always been around, I remember seeing them on my parents' shelves, at the library, you know, just around. I always assumed she was something of a Fannie Flagg, a writer of nostalgic literary fiction, not a bad thing necessarily, but something I could ignore. Enter The Greenlanders, a historical fiction epic that succeeded on every level. Which made me wonder, who is Jane Smiley?

Finding a title of hers I'd never seen before I decided I'd find out some more. She t
Robert Palmer
Jane Smiley usually writes about relationship s within family and friends and they have been very good novels. This book however is a mystery plus the relationships. Six young friends move from Minnesota to New York hoping to make it big as a rock group, ten years later only two are still trying but they spend most of their time sitting around drinking ,doing drugs and talking about all of the bad breaks they have had. One day Alice,who now works in a library go's to Susan's apartment to water h ...more
Anne Hawn Smith
This book was a disappointment to me. I disliked all the characters and the naive, blissfully unaware, Alice was too stupid to be a librarian, much less a friend. Non of the characters were well developed and their lives were pitiful.

The plot was about some friends in their 30's who had come through the hippie commune era and were living in New York. The band had had a hit record, but had done nothing much since. They seemed on the border of going some place, but never quite made it. The story
Oct 07, 2012 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary mysteries
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
Alice Ellis is a refugee from the Midwest living in Manhattan. Still recovering from a painful divorce, Alice depends on the companionship and camaraderie of a circle of tightly knit friends. At the center of this circle is a struggling rock band trying to navigate New York City's erratic music scene, and an apartment/practice space with approximately fifty key-holders. One day, Alice enters the apartment and finds two of the band members shot dead.

As the double murder sends shock waves througho
Jim Leckband
Smiley took a risk with this book early in her career. "Duplicate Keys" is about a stoned out, crappy rock band and their "entourage" that had only one hit in their career and now are scraping by on pot fumes and faded Rolling Stone reviews. I say this is a risk for Smiley because she certainly hadn't done anything better than the rock group so far in her career!

"Duplicate Keys" is a psychological thriller, a bit like Ruth Rendell. There is a cliffhanger quality to it, but Smiley is most concern
A lesson for me to write a review while it's still hot :( I was finishing the book sitting at Museumplein, being blown by unbelievably relentless wind, not budging because at least it was sunny there and I was just a couple of pages more from closing the book. My hair was completely tangled and my heart cried out every few seconds, "I'm Alice! This is me she's writing about! Yes, that's how I felt that time too!". Obviously my brain was smarter than the rest of my body and hid itself somewhere w ...more
My first Smiley novel. This one was actually pretty good, better than I expected, but I must admit my expectations were not high. This book started strong, sucked me in and made me attached to Alice. I liked her, the divorced librarian originally from Minnesota and now taking on the Big Apple with a close-knit group of friends.
Mystery and some twists kept me guessing about who the murderer/s might be and for a while I actually cared who did it. But just over half-way through this book went stagn

I bought this book not knowing anything about the author. The cover looked pretty so i took it. I've let it sit a year on my shelf before actually deciding to read it.
This book is so annoying i gave myself one day to read it and then give it away (more like forcing it on someone).

I have nothing to say about the writing style. It's good for the most part (not my favourite style but it's really not bad). But everything else... Oh my god. I don't know where to start.

First of all : the chara
I listened to this book, which may have largely contributed to my not really liking it. I didn't know anything about it and just picked it up at the library because I like Jane Smiley.

The premise was somewhat interesting -- two musicians were found murdered in their NY apartment, and the list of people who had keys to the apartment was so long as to make it nearly impossible to reconstruct, and thus the list of possible suspects was equally long.

The narrator, Alice, found the bodies of her frien
Jo Ann
Oct 12, 2007 Jo Ann marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Alice Ellis is a Midwestern refugee living in Manhattan. Still recovering from a painful divorce, she depends on the companionship and camaraderie of tightly knit circle of friends. At the center of this circle is a rock band struggling to navigate New York’s erratic music scene, and an apartment/practice space with approximately fifty key-holders. One sunny day, Alice enters the apartment and finds two of the band members shot dead. As the double-murder sends waves of shock through their
Ugh, slog, this got so tedious! The main character was infuriating, so needy and dependent and wishy washy about everything in her life, and discovering a double murder only makes her more so! I hate incompetent narrators and she takes the cake, quite literally as she spends a quarter of the novel emotionally eating her way through difficult situations when her immediate group of friends become the prime suspects in the murder. So glad to be done with it.
Listened to the audiobook from Recorded Books

Narrated By: Ruth Ann Phimister

Jane Smiley’s talent for creating emotionally-gripping tales of family relationships was celebrated when she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for A Thousand Acres (RB# 94792). In Duplicate Keys, Smiley displays her flair for creating a haunting mystery. Everyone has keys to Susan’s New York apartment: all her friends, and friends of friends. So one afternoon, when Alice unlocks Susan’s door to w
Jessica Gordon
Had I known this was a murder mystery, I would not have read it. That said, it is exactly how I imagine all murder mysteries must be--propelled by the readers mild curiosity and not all that much suspended disbelief. I liked the character of Alice Ellis, and I grew to know her slowly, but I never got to know any of the other characters, particularly Noah and Rya. The book was entirely about Alice and told from her perspective, yet it was a story that encompassed many people who were just distant ...more
Jane Smiley does a literary who done it. Reading it in 2015 it is also a time capsule of NYC without cell phones and social media and when the city was still recovering from the 70s when it was a down trodden, down spirited mess.
Think of the TV show Friends with much darker characters. Fun read as much for the story which as always with Jane Smiley is well written as to the time capsule aspect.
Kathleen O'Donnell
I'm a big Jane Smiley fan, so I was disappointed to discover I didn't like this book very much. A woman finds two of her friends (men) murdered. Everyone in their circle of tight knit friends, including the woman who found them, is suspect. I'm afraid this one is a bore. I didn't find any of the characters interesting, relatable or likeable enough to care that they killed someone or died.
Richard Jespers
Murder mystery but not in the conventional sense—much more personal with regard to the characters who remain. Metaphor of “key” resonates in a number of ways throughout novel. There exists an “unlocking” of the characters’ relationships. Again, a completely different voice, approach, etc. from the other two books of hers that I’ve read. Only a particularly skilled writer can do that.
Jane Smiley writes well, as always. She evokes the let-down feeling of the 1980's, when the wild music begins to fade and despair stalks a once-promising band. Her characters are full of contradictions, hopes, impulses, and bad judgments that propel them in a random dance of life in loops and returns. I felt I knew those people. And felt much empathy for them.
An annoying and useless book. The characters are uninteresting, and the story doesn't add up. The sex scenes are laughable soft porn chick lit, and there are enough superfluous mentions of Zabar's to raise the suspicion that she struck a deal with them for a lifetime of free meals. Not at all what I expected from somebody with Jane Smiley's reputation.
Lynn Pribus
Smiley is such a polished writer, yet this book is dated in tone. It involves two murders, but is not at all a whodunit. Detailed and lengthy analysis of various characters, their personalities, their behaviors, their relationships. All well developed. Actually overly well developed. I found myself skimming some of the lengthier segments as the novel progressed.
A group of Midwesterners move to New York in their 20s to seek fame and fortune but end up with dashed hopes. When two of them are found murdered, their lives are all drastically changed. The "heroine" in this book is a wishy-washy person who lives in her own unrealistic world. The dynamics of a group of close friends under stress is interesting, but the characters themselves are unlikeable.

I picked this book up at a thrift shop and wanted to read something quick. I’m not a fan of the mystery genre, and this is my first that I can recall. Seeing that this was written by Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Thousand Acres, I figured it would be a good start. I enjoyed being immersed in the setting of the novel – Upper West Side NYC – and learning about the inner workings and relationships of a not-very-successful rock band. I thought the murderer’s motive was very interes
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Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from John Burroughs School. She obtained a A.B. at Vassar College, then earned a M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar
More about Jane Smiley...
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“Laura's gossip was redeemed by its lack of spite. She was warmly objective about every event, taking endless delight in action and complexity, as if she had been bed-ridden in a small windowless room for years and was just now discovering the dramatic possibilities of daily life. She sang Alice through the day.” 1 likes
“...but from this distance, the velvety reds, flashing yellows and glassy whites [of the roses] seemed to break up the light of the summer sun into its various elements and cast it back far more brilliantly than any other flower ever could, seemed not exactly of the earth, but of space and air itself.” 0 likes
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