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A Murderous Glaze: A Clay and Crime Mystery by Melissa Glazer
Review by Beth Slater
Berkley Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425218365
Date: 06 November 2007 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Carolyn Emerson ended her bout of empty nest syndrome by opening a paint-your-own pottery shop, Fire at Will, where people could come in and either craft their own pieces or simply take one already fired and paint and glaze it themselves. She's been fairly happy and successful, until she stops in one night after closing and finds a dead body on the floor of her showroom. Her rocky history with the sheriff doesn't help her innocent plea, but she's hesitant to pursue the mystery with the sudden demise of the shops patronage – how will she pay the bills?

Through an odd series of events, Carolyn manages to back herself into the situation of having to find the murderer. She calls her regulars, a group who call themselves The Firing Squad, and they meet to see what they can find out about the victim from their pooled resources. Afterwards, of course, they gamely all try a new form of pottery throwing, the recent murder pushed to the back of their minds Carolyn figures that with the help of a former judge, a former felon, a reference librarian, and a home-maker with 5 children she should have the gamut of the population covered. But with so little going on in the shop, she's able to leave it in the hands of her capable assistant David and do some snooping on her own. With the knowledge that this was not her forte, she stumbles across information – and the sheriff – while reminding herself that her shop, her heart and soul, was at stake. The sheriff and Carolyn's husband (independently) don't take kindly to her interference in the case, but it doesn't take much pushing for Carolyn to push back – twice as hard.

As she narrows down her suspect list, Carolyn knows she's hit a nerve when a brick flies through her front glass window in the early morning hours, destroying almost all the pottery on display. Not sure which suspect to pursue, she once again brings in The Firing Squad to brainstorm with all the information they've gathered. But little does she know that someone else, someone whose help she's enlisted, has figured it out first – and unless she can decide which of her fellow townspeople is a murderer, there may be another body – or two.

There seems to be a spate of crafting mysteries lately, and while I enjoy crafts myself, it is difficult to imagine the high crime rate that would be required to sustain a series. Unfortunately I couldn't keep this thought from my mind while I was reading this. Carolyn is likable, but she seems to run hot and cold with most everyone and this was confusing when trying to follow conversations. This is definitely a cozy with minimal violence, but I don't know if I'll try the next one.

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