Yesterday, we talked about problems we have with mysteries. I have no problem with Laura Alden's amateur sleuth in Foul Play at the PTA. Beth Kennedy gives amateur sleuths a good name. In fact, I have to admit, the mystery is almost secondary in this book. If you don't like Beth, the book is going to fall flat for you. But, for those of us who enjoy characters, and amateur sleuths who have a reason to investigate, Alden's series is a success.
Because Beth was having problems with an employee at her children's bookstore, she had to ask the PTA to change their meeting night one week. She was secretary, and knew she needed to be there. But, when she and the president found Sam Helmstetter dead in his SUV afterward, she blamed herself. Would have Sam been killed if it had been another night?
Even blaming herself, though, Beth didn't want to jump into a murder investigation, as her best friend, Marina, suggested. Since they'd successfully found one killer, everyone in town thought they would look for this one. And, poor Sam didn't seem to have any enemies. But, it wasn't until Beth's business was threatened that she buckled down to look for the killer. Because she had hired a new woman who had been acquitted of murder, others in town seemed to think she would kill again, and might have killed Sam.
Beth has two of the qualities I care about in an amateur sleuth. She's one of those mothers who doesn't forget she has children. In fact, that's why she hesitated so long before agreeing to look for Sam's
killer. Her children had been in danger before, and she didn't want to have it happen again. And, she has a reason to get involved in this case; her business is threatened, and in Beth's mind, that means her livelihood, and, by extension, her house, and then her children.
Laura Alden's Foul Play at the PTA works as a mystery with an amateur sleuth. For those of us who appreciate good characters, it's just as satisfying as her first book in the series, the Agatha award-nominated, Murder at the PTA.
Laura Alden's website is http://www.lauraalden.com/
Foul Play at the PTA by Laura Alden. Obsidian. ©2011. ISBN 9780451234087 (paperback), 312p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.