A murder during Mardi Gras...

Keepsake Crimes
A Scrapbooking Mystery #1
Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime, May 2003
Nook ed., 256 pages
Genre(s) Cozy mystery
Source Author's rep

Other books in this series: Photo Finished, Bound for Murder, Motif for Murder, Frill Kill, Death Swatch, Tragic Magic, Fiber and Brimstone, Skeleton Letters, Postcards from the Dead, Gilt Trip, Gossamer Ghost, Parchment and Old Lace, Crepe Factor


Synopsis:  
New Orleans scrapbooking shop owner Carmela Bertrand delights her customers with the sophisticated looks she achieves with their scrapbooks. But among her client's keepsakes, she finds a tip of her own-about a murder...

About the Author:  
Laura Childs is a pseudonym for Gerry Schmitt and she is the best-selling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbook Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries.

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life, she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various nonprofits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries - set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She's also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn't rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries - a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans' spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries - set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe's undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.


My Disclaimer:  

I was provided a free copy of this book by the author's representative. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰
This book has been around for quite awhile, but I just have never had a chance to read this series, so I decided this summer was the time to do it. I read several reviews on it and they tended to say that it was light on mystery, so I read it with that in mind. Well, the mystery happens in the beginning. At least the murder does. The accusations began right away, too.

There are twenty-eight chapters in the book and the first seventeen are setting the stage for our heroine, Carmela, to get fired up enough to try to solve the case. I think this is why so many people say it's light on mystery. For one thing, the only cop involved is one that you can tell is dirty from the first sight of him. For another, there's a lot of partying and gossiping about it, but not much really happening about the actual murder. It seems frivolous even into chapter 18 when Carmela actually does something to try to find some information about people who might be involved.

But Carmela has been written to be a stand-up, spunky character and she holds up under the accusations against her possibly soon-to-be ex-husband that she can't locate. She also can't decide if she still loves him or if she despises him for deserting her six months ago with no explanation other than he needs to work on his photography and have some space of his own.

She convinces her sister-in-law, who is a VP at the family bank to let her look at her husband's office at the bank to see if there might be some clue to why he has disappeared and whether or not he could possibly be involved in this mystery. Her sister-in-law grudgingly goes along with it. Carmela finds a file that doesn't seem quite right to her and she tucks it into her handbag. From that file, she decides who might be involved and she starts poking around. She's got good instincts, but she's not quite on the right track. It's like she's sniffing up the right tree, just not the right branch.

While taking some photos for a project, she's attacked and ends up in the hospital with her errant husband at her side, who ties up all the loose ends that she hasn't already figured out. But I call "foul play" when an author holds the cards so close to her chest that there's no way you can figure out the mystery with what she's given you. There was too much missing from the story for us to figure it out. Some good guessing brought me close to one part, but the other part was too concealed. A puzzle with missing pieces is frustrating. It won't stop me from reading the next book in this series to see what the series as a whole is like. I recommend this book to cozy readers, especially if you enjoy scrapbooking as I do. If you have more insight into this series, please share it with me. Laura Childs is a prolific author keeping all three of her series current.