Tuesday, August 03, 2010

False Impressions - Terri Thayer

False Impressions
A Stamping Sisters Mystery
Terri Thayer
Berkley Prime Crime


In the seven months since she’s been home, April’s life has changed dramatically. She’s living in a barn restored by her dad and his partner, Vince. Vince’s parents, having lost everything, are living in the barn with her. It’s an arrangement that’s difficult for everyone, but necessary. April is dating a nice guy and has her restoration business and her line of craft stamps. The stamps are sold by Stamping Sisters, a craft supply business that works on the same model as Tupperware. Her deal with the original owner of the local franchise was that she’d get royalties from the stuff she designed. The new owner wants her to be a saleswoman, too. And to design a whole new line of stamps to be introduced and sold at the local Ice Festival. Which is next weekend.

During one snowy afternoon’s cleanup project, April discovers that one of her friends has a brother, J.B., she’s never mentioned. In fact, it turns out that J.B.’s cremains are still sitting at the local funeral home, unclaimed by his family. Characteristically, April sticks her nose into that situation far beyond the dictates of friendship or even good taste, and alienates her friend. She quickly learns that J.B. was killed when a meth house exploded. All that seems moot when J.B. shows up in town, very much alive. Temporarily, at least. In part to make up for her earlier behavior, but also because she just can’t resist a mystery, April decides to find out just what is going on in her little town.

This series (STAMPED OUT, INKED UP) seems to improve with each new installment. The basic mystery plot here grows from questions about a friend’s brother to something that really affects everyone in town. The pacing is very fast and even and the plot develops very organically. The author makes some choices that may be unsettling for cozy readers, but that are very effective. There is no explicit violence or drug use here, so while cozy fans may be surprised, they can read without fear. I’m still not sure I’d like to have April as a friend, but she shows signs of deepening as a character, and the series continues to find solid footing.

Rating: 7
August 2010
ISBN# 978-0-425-23555-3 (paperback)


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