Thursday, May 06, 2010

Monster In Miniature - Margaret Grace


Monster In Miniature
A Miniature Mystery
Margaret Grace
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery

It’s getting close to Halloween in Lincoln Point, and retired teacher Geraldine Porter is busy with her hobby, making miniatures. Maddie, her 11-year-old granddaughter is an eager helper. This year, everything worked out right and Geraldine is finally getting to make a ‘haunted’ dollhouse for the season. For inspiration, she and Maddie head over to Sangamon River Road, where the residents hold an annual contest for best decorations. The competition is pretty intense, with residents using motion sensors and animatronic devices to make their displays more realistic and scary.

Unfortunately, the display on the Ferguson’s porch is a little too realistic. From a distance, it looks like a scarecrow, but up close, it’s clear that it’s a dead man. The teenagers who discover this are understandably shaken, and tell the police that the man apparently shot himself in the head, and still holds the gun in one lifeless hand.

Word spreads quickly in a small town (especially when you have a relative who’s a sheriff) and it turns out that the deceased, Oliver Halbert, was a building inspector who was scheduled to testify against a developer. The developer apparently had a history of bribing officials, including Oliver’s predecessor. It seems like small town politics gone wrong. Then Geraldine finds that part of Oliver’s investigation turned up the name of her late husband, and architect who did a lot of work around town. There’s nothing solid against him, but Geraldine is determined to clear his name and solve the murder.

Newcomers to this series (see below for titles) will have no problems jumping in here. This is probably the best of the series, so far. The plot seems a bit more complex and tightly scripted than in previous books. Perhaps it’s because the case has a very emotional connection for Geraldine, who understandably wants to clear the name of her late husband.

As always, Maddie is a delightful child who, unlike far too many fictional kids, acts like a real child. She’s smart and clever, but in many ways she’s still a little girl. It’s nice to watch the grandmother/granddaughter interactions on both a personal and crafting level. I have to say that I’ve never been personally interested in the creation of miniatures until this installment. The idea of taking a dollhouse and transforming it into a mini-haunted house really crystallizes the appeal of this craft for me.

Rating: 7 ½
April 2010
ISBN# 978-0-425-23390-0 (paperback)

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