Monday, January 12, 2009

A Veiled Deception - Annette Blair

A Veiled Deception
A Vintage Magic Mystery
Annette Blair
Berkley Prime Crime


Maddie Cutler travels to her hometown of Mystic Falls in order to help her baby sister plan her wedding. After living in New York and working in the fashion industry, she’s expecting life to be more relaxing in Mystic Falls. Of course, she’s wrong. At an engagement party at her family home, her sister, Sherry, is upset. There’s a woman called Jasmine hanging all over Justin, the prospective groom. They were apparently friends (or more) in college. To make things worse, Justin’s mother is behaving as if Jasmine is her future daughter-in-law.

After the party winds down, Maddie discovers Jasmine in an upstairs bedroom, strangled by a beaded wedding veil. Naturally, Sherry is the prime suspect in the murder. Just as naturally, Maddie goes into protective mode in order to prove that Sherry couldn’t have killed Jasmine. During all this Maddie gets to work on altering a vintage wedding dress, worn by generations of women in Justin’s family. Maddie has always been able to see ghosts. But handling this vintage dress, she gets a kind of vision about a woman who once wore it. A woman who never married into the family.

This is the first book in a new series. Clearly, the author decided to set several storylines in motion that will evolve in future books. The problem is that there’s just too much going on, and the result is that each storyline gets shortchanged. Maddie’s on-again, off-again relationship with an FBI agent, a possible flirtation with a local cop, the purchase of an old building for a new business, new information about her late mother, and the very definite presence of a dapper ghost are all crammed into this one novel.

These are all solid ideas, but it might have served the author better to save something for the second installment. Perhaps mention future plotlines, but allow the mystery to retain center stage here. As it is, the narrative skips from one story to the next and back again, quite quickly. The final denouement of this murder, while definitive, feels rushed and ultimately unsatisfying. It will be interesting to see how the author handles the remaining plotlines in future volumes.

Rating: 5 ½
January 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22640-7 (paperback)


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