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Let There Be Suspects by Emilie Richards
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0425213072
Date: 05 December, 2006 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Let There Be Suspects by Emilie Richards continues the Ministry is Murder series begun with Blessed Is the Busybody and features amateur sleuth and full-time minister's wife Aggie Sloan-Wilcox. Richard's delightful humor and clever mystery will please cozy mystery fans.

A holiday family reunion raises many unsettled issues. A quarrel between Aggie's sister Sid, short for Obsidian, and their foster sister Ginger, ends with Sid knocking Ginger into the Women's Society's crystal punch bowl which falls and breaks. This is second punchbowl destroyed in Aggie's care and doesn't improve her relations with the Society.

Several conservative church members want to replace Aggie's husband Ed as church pastor. A murder solved by Aggie in Blessed Is the Busybody only strengthened their desire. Aggie strives to meet their view of a minister's wife, but runs afoul of one family or another despite her best efforts.

Then, when Ginger is found murdered, suspicion falls on Sid. Aggie knows her sister would never commit murder, but to clear Sid, she must find the murderer. However, Aggie needs to convince Detective Roussos to look beyond Sid for the murderer.

One of leading church members mounts a campaign against a local doctor who specializes in pain management. She believes he prescribes too many drugs to addicts and should be jailed. Ed has been encouraging the doctor to join the church, which adds more problems for Aggie.

Aggie and her friend and fellow sleuth, Lucy Jacobs, investigate Ginger's past and discover she lived a very different life from the one she described to her family. The investigation reveals details the family never knew about Ginger's life and a long list of suspect. She made enemies everywhere. She also lived a life style well beyond her means so Aggie must find out where she got the money.

A visit to a trendy nightclub forces Aggie into clothing and a persona far removed from a small-town minister's wife. She only hopes she meets no one she knows. On top of all else, she learns the club owner and Ginger's former boyfriend has been arrested as a drug dealer.

Who killed Ginger? If not Sid, could it be Ginger's former assistant, the publisher of her cookbook, the fired marketing manager of her television show, Sid's ex-boyfriend, Ginger's last boyfriend, or the boyfriend's cohorts? Ginger made so many enemies the list keeps growing. Despite the number, Aggie must find the one with the best motive and opportunity and angry enough to murder. Along the way, several nice twists increase Aggie's confusion.

Richards depicts the family relationships well. The sisters gain new insights as they rehash old hurts and quarrels. They discover nothing is as simple as it appeared in memory.

A great storyteller, Richards writes a humor-filled murder mystery that works. Her humor is often self-deprecating, gentle, and effective. She develops enough suspects and action to keep readers turning pages. She plays fair and lays the clues for the astute reader to solve the crime. This reader looks forward to more adventures with Aggie. A tickler for the next Ministry Is Murder novel contains intriguing hints for the future of the series.

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