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Tragic Magic (A Scrapbooking Mystery) by Laura Childs
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425229897
Date: 06 October 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Interview with Laura Childs / Show Official Info /

Melody Mayfeldt has purchased an old mansion and is planning to turn it into a creepy, ghostly, experience for tourists. She's asked Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava Gruiex to help design the rooms for maximum creepiness. Melody has already scoured shops to pick up furniture and accessories for the project based on the work of a previous designer. Many of the special effects have already been installed, so Carmela and Ava just need to complete what's already been started. That is until they show up to meet with Melody just as her burning body plunges to the ground from an upper floor window. It's no special effect, Melody was murdered.

More by Laura Childs:
Scrapbooking Mystery:
Motif for Murder
Frill Kill
Death Swatch
Tragic Magic

Tea Shop Mystery:
Dragonwell Dead

Cackleberry Club Mystery:
Eggs in Purgatory

Carmela and Ava just can't sit back and wait for the police to find the killer when they learn that Melody's husband is the prime suspect. So, naturally they swing into action to complete the project for Melody's partner and to investigate the crime, avoiding the police as much as possible since Carmela is dating the detective in charge of the case.

There are plenty of suspects: the developer who lost the bid for the mansion; the ghost walk guide who is just plain creepy; Melody's husband (as much as they don't want to believe it); her business partner; or a jealous business rival. Childs manages to play fair and yet lead us on a merry chase after rumors, red herrings, misunderstandings, and strange incidents.

I love it when I get to the end of the book and realize the clues were all there in plain sight and yet I missed it along with the amateur sleuths until the final chapters. Tragic Magic manages to keep you reading and thinking you know more than the main characters, because they're being so dense, only to find out you don't know any more than they do. That makes a good, fun, mystery.

This is the first of the Scrapbook Mysteries that I've read. It was mainly because I'm not into scrapbooking. But, mix in New Orleans, some sassy sharp women, descriptions of great food, and a clever mystery and what's not to like. Maybe I'll even come to enjoy scrapbooking--the scenes in Memory Mine certainly made the craft sound like fun and the ideas were intriguing. However, if there is one things I don't need it's taking up a new craft, so I guess I'll just enjoy the mysteries instead of the craft. The book also includes Scrapbooking, Stamping, and Craft Tips from Laura Childs, and Favorite New Orleans Recipes (Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Mystery Muffins, Brown Sugar and Sour Cream Butter, Carmela's Cocoa Loco Pie, Parmesan Shrimp Bake, Monkey Bread, Southern Coffee Cookies, Chicken Piccata, New Orleans Roast Beef Po'Boy, Deep Fried Strawberries, and Frozen Daiquiri

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