Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Murder In Miniature - Margaret Grace

Murder In Miniature
A Miniature Mystery
Margaret Grace
Berkley Prime Crime


Geraldine (Gerry) Porter has filled her free time since the death of her husband two years ago, with crafts. In particular, she creates very detailed miniatures. At the moment, the retired high school English teacher is serving as chair of the local Dollhouse and Miniatures Fair. All participants have agreed to donate a portion of their profits to the school library fund. Seated at the table next to her is longtime friend, Linda Reed. Linda is out-of-sorts most of the time, but Gerry is a sucker for a difficult person. And, the truth is, Linda has her moments. She used her nursing connections to help out when Gerry’s husband was ill. For that, Gerry is willing to forgive a lot.

But, when Linda goes missing just before the fair begins, leaving both of their tables unmanned, that’s too much even for Gerry. As the evening progresses with no word from Linda, Gerry moves from irritated to worried; especially once she realizes that Linda’s car is still in the parking lot. True, Linda has pulled this sort of disappearing act before, but Gerry can’t believe that Linda would leave her beloved miniatures unattended. And the centerpiece of her display, a tiny, working desk, is missing, too. It’s not until nearly 3 in the morning that Gerry hears from Linda. Linda won’t explain, except to say that she’s stranded at a gas station near the interstate. And, of course, wants Gerry to rescue her.

One might think that a friend would explain, but not Linda. She dances around all of Gerry’s increasingly pointed questions. Gerry wonders if it has something to do with Linda’s adopted teenaged son and a local robbery, but Linda refuses to discuss it. The following day, the craft fair – and the entire small town – is buzzing with the news of a murder. It’s just an item of interest for Gerry until she discovers that the victim was discovered on the grounds of a gas station; the very same gas station from which Linda made her frantic late-night call to Gerry.

Linda is, frankly, a bit hard to take, but the author (and Gerry, as narrator) makes a point of detailing Linda’s hard life and current troubles, making her a bit more sympathetic. Still, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that Gerry was just being used in that relationship. Gerry and her family are all great characters, down to ten-year-old Madison, who, refreshingly, acts like a child and not like a miniature adult. Speaking of miniatures, no background in this craft is required to enjoy the novel. The author explains the basics, and even offers tips for creating miniatures with found objects. This is the first in what promises to be a charming new series.

Rating: 7
February 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-21980-5 (paperback)


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