Sunday, February 22, 2009

Malice In Miniature - Margaret Grace

Malice In Miniature
A Miniature Mystery
Margaret Grace
Berkley Prime Crime


Retired teacher Geraldine (Gerry) Porter (MURDER IN MINIATURE, MAYHEM IN MINIATURE) is putting the finishing touches on her latest miniature creation while enjoying some time living with her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter Maddie. Gerry’s current project is a box room representing the Lincoln-Douglas debate for the upcoming “Real President’s Day,” celebrated by the residents of Lincoln Point. Mary Lou, Gerry’s daughter-in-law, will be contributing a watercolor painting of the same debate. In fact, the local art community has come together in a big way for the event, which will be documented by the local TV station.

In a small town, everyone is more or less connected to everyone else. Gerry’s next-door neighbor, June, arrives one evening, looking for Gerry’s nephew, Skip, June’s boyfriend and a local detective. June is beside herself because her best friend, Zoe, has been arrested for murder. It soon comes out that Skip did the arresting. The victim was Zoe’s boyfriend, another local artist. June is adamant that Zoe couldn’t possibly have done it, and Gerry wants to help her neighbor, but isn’t sure what to believe about the alibi June provided for her friend.

The whole thing sounds very convoluted as a summary, but as written, it makes perfect sense. It’s a small community and the various relationships between residents are realistic. Eleven-year-old Maddie’s glee at being involved in “another case” might seem a bit distasteful, but at her age, the excitement of investigating with her grandmother is the draw; the reality of death doesn’t really occur to her, especially that of a stranger. Like most kids her age, Maddie is a child one moment and a young woman the next. In fact, all of the characters are quite well written.

There’s very little (ha) chance that I’ll ever want to start building miniature rooms or decorate dollhouses, but the descriptions given throughout the text allow me to understand the allure of finding just the right ‘something’ to use as a piece of furniture or a tiny painting on a wall. Gerry’s involvement is understandable, since the victim is a few degrees removed from Gerry yet still part of the loose artistic group to which she belongs, and she wants to help June. The plot is complicated enough to keep the reader’s interest to the end, and leaves Gerry, a truly likable character, with plenty of room to grow.

Rating: 7
February 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22558-5 (paperback)


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