When a mystery begins with a blinding flash, and a flaming body falling from the third story of a house called Medusa Manor, you know it's going to be a dramatic story. And, what better place to set a dramatic murder mystery than in New Orleans? Laura Childs captures the atmosphere and drama of New Orleans in her seventh Scrapbooking Mystery, Tragic Magic.
It's not easy being a small shop owner in New Orleans even four years after Hurricane Katrina, so Carmela Betrand, owner of Memory Mine scrapbook shop, and her best friend, Ava Gruiex, owner of Juju Voodoo, had accepted a job decorating Medusa Manor, bringing it to full glory as a haunted house prior to the horror convention, DiscordaCon. They didn't expect to see their friend, and boss, Melody Mayfeldt, plummet from the upper story to her death. It was "Bad luck, bad timing, bad karma, the whole ball of wax."
Carmela is still is shock when Melody's business partner asks them to continue to decorate the house. And, when Melody's husband asks her to look into her death, she's totally caught up in the case. As Ava tells her, she's helping the victim's husband, sleeping with the chief investigator, Detective Edgar Babcock, and making deals with the victim's business partners. Carmela just has to be careful she doesn't end up going down in flames as well.
Carmela Bertrand is a fascinating amateur detective. Childs' brings Carmela to life as the owner of a scrapbooking shop. Details of the craft, and some of Carmela's clients, fill the book. At the same time, Carmela has a rich life outside of the shop. She's dating Babcock, and she's in the death throes of a divorce, dealing with the divorce settlement with her soon-to-be-ex-husband, a spoiled, rich frat boy type. Carmela is easy to like, a woman who dotes on her two dogs, her business, and her friends. At the same time, she's curious enough to worm her way into a murder investigation.
Childs' mystery is saturated with the New Orleans atmosphere; restaurants and haunted houses, the Garden District, voodoo shops, ghost walks and cemeteries. And, if that isn't enticement enough to make the reader want a trip to New Orleans, the book has a collection of New Orleans recipes.
New Orleans is a city of tragedy and mystery. Now, Carmela Bertrand has to sift through clues and misdirections, in the midst of New Orleans' rich life, to find someone who wanted a friend dead. It's one more mystery for the city, and the scrappy scrapbook shop owner. It's Tragic Magic.
Join us tomorrow when Laura Childs is guest blogger, discussing "What if?"
Laura Childs' website is www.laurachilds.com
Tragic Magic by Laura Childs. Penguin Group (USA), ©2009. ISBN
9780425229897 (hardcover), 320p.