Beware False Profits (Ministry is Murder Mystery)
by Emilie Richards
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425218686
Date: 06 November 2007 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Aggie Sloan-Wilcox, the wife of a liberal small town minister, puts her reputation and life on the line when she investigates the mysterious disappearance of Joe Wagner, a prominent local businessman. When the murder of the mayor's wife, Hazel Kefauver, a critic of Joe, adds to the puzzle, both Aggie's husband Ed and police detective Kirk Russos try to discourage her efforts.
Emilie Richards in Beware False Profits, the latest in her Ministry is Murder series, gives Aggie plenty of problems to strain even her considerable abilities and the patience of her family and those she struggles to help. Lucy, Aggie's best friend, Junie, her eccentric mother, and Deana and Teddy, her daughters, help and hinder Aggie as she doggedly pursues clue after clue. The church's misplaced antique punch bowl, as in earlier books, causes Aggie sleepless nights and adds to her stress.
Aggie learns people are more complex than she initially considers them, and she must revise her views and opinions of various individuals to solve the mystery. Fraud, a suspicious fire, and another death add to the complications. The solutions to the various mysteries hinge on small clues and careful analysis that task Aggie's skills. Her sharp humor helps her through the difficult and life threatening search for a ruthless killer.
Richards uses the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers as part of Joe's background and motivation, even using the biblical names for his brothers and his father. She provides her own spin to the story and adds plenty of action and suspects with reasons to want Hazel and even Joe dead. She also calls into question the stereotypes of female impersonators, the talkative assistant, the love-starved secretary, and perfect housewives.
Cozy readers will find much to enjoy. Richards plays fair with the reader and leaves clues throughout, but with plenty of red herrings as well. Humor and interesting twists make for a fun read.