Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Motif for Murder - Laura Childs



Motif for Murder
A Scrapbooking Mystery
Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery / Cozy

Carmela Bertrand, owner of New Orleans scrapbooking store Memory Mine, has been through Hurricane Katrina and a very nasty two-year estrangement from her wealthy husband, Shamus. Now, with the store back in operation and her marriage seemingly back on track, she’s living with Shamus in their beautiful Garden District Home. When Shamus offers to cook breakfast, Carmela is worried about the very possible lack of edible result and the very sure presence of a huge mess in the kitchen. Hearing bangs and crashes from the kitchen, she decides to tactfully interfere. To her shock, when she arrives in the kitchen she sees a black Cadillac Eldorado pulled up to the back door, a man quickly closing the trunk, and the car tearing across the back lawn.

Her first reaction is to dial 911 for help. Then, trying to remember what Shamus, whose family owns the Crescent City Bank, told her to do in just such an event, she dashes a few doors down to enlist the aid of Shamus’ Uncle Henry. She finds Uncle Henry, seated in his beloved library, with a bullet hole in his forehead. Returning home, she attempts to explain the incredible events of the back few moments to the police, with the help of her unflappable friend, Ava. Naturally, the two women are unable to stay out of the investigations, and, in short order, have located Shamus. But the murderer is much more evasive. Carmela begins an altered book scrapbook in memory of Uncle Henry that may reveal more than the murderer wants her to see.

Clearly, any series set in New Orleans must mention Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. The author manages to do so here in a manner that is respectful without being overbearing. The first two chapters are a complete flurry of Carmela’s understandably panicked activity, which makes a good contrast to the relative calm of the investigation that follows. I have to admit that I’m more than ready for an end to the on-again, off-again relationship between Carmela and Shamus. Watching an otherwise capable, independent, and intelligent woman dither over this particular man takes a good deal of the fun out of the series. On the other hand, the murder mystery is done very well, and the various secondary characters add an original flair. Ava, in particular, is always a delight. The inclusion of scrapbooking tips at the end rounds out this cozy mystery.

Rating: 6 ½
September 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21204-1 (hardcover)

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