Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: Colourful, love it.
The last thing Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava expect to bear witness to in St. Tristan's Church is a crime. But now a beloved member of their scrapbooking circle is lying lifeless next to a smashed statue of St. Sebastien - and a mysterious hooded figure has absconded with an antique crucifix. With so many tourists passing through the church, the police don’t have a prayer of finding the killer.
But if anyone can get to the bottom of the crime, it’s Carmela’s main squeeze, Detective Edgar Babcock – with a little assistance from some scrappy sleuths. As Carmela and Ava are drawn deeper into New Orleans' French Quarter in search of the missing crucifix, they discover that this is one killer they don't want to cross...
I am always looking forward to a new Laura Childs book. She writes three different cozy mystery series, and I enjoy all three of them. And lucky for me, there will be another one next month, in the Cackleberry Club series.
So when the mailman dropped this book on my doormat, I didn’t hesitated a second before opening it up and start reading.
Despite owning a voodoo shop, Ava is a real Catholic girl, and she is a happy member of the Angel Auxiliary, doing volunteer work for her church, St. Tristan’s church in New Orleans. Carmela has made a nice handlettered sign for Ava to use, and they have entered the church to put it up. It is a bit spooky inside, due to the bad weather outside, and when they hear a woman screaming, they cannot directly locate her. Then, over at one of the side altars, they see a woman struggle with a hooded figure, and see her getting killed. When they rush to her side, the killer runs of, and they find one of their best friends on the floor. Desperately trying to revive her, Carmela tells Ava to call 911, and then her boyfriend, Detective Edgar Babcock. He is the best there is, and they need him to solve this crime.
Babcock is not happy that Carmela and Ava have witnessed a murder, and he warns her to stay out of it. He will peek into the investigation, as another Detective has gotten the case, but he will not take it over. He has enough on his plate already. But when Baby, another friend of Byrle Coopersmith and Carmela, asks her to look into it, use her line with Babcock to find out what happened, she cannot say no. Even her shop assistant Gabby encourages her.
Behind the church, an archaeological investigation is happening, and they found an old silver crucifix a few weeks ago, that is going to be the highlight of an exhibition in two weeks. Or rather, was, as it was stolen by the murderer. Perhaps Byrle was trying to prevent it from happening. When Ava and Carmela go back to the church the next day to investigate some more, hoping to find a clue the police overlooked, they are scared by an odd priest in the basement, who tells them ”Seekers”, and then is gone again. What does that mean?
Carmela is not only busy with this new investigation, she is also busy running her scrapbooking shop, Memory Mine, hosting a wine tasting event for Quigg in one of the best hotels in New Orleans, and helping with a children’s art project together with her friend Jekyl Hardy. Baby asks her to open up her house for the Christmas tour of the Garden District, but Carmela is hesitant. After all, she doesn’t live there, and it has only sad memories for her. She is still deciding if she will sell it or not. But with the help of Jekyl and Ava, the decorations are swiftly decided upon, and Jekyl will help her sell the house and the furniture inside it. When it entails a fotoshoot with Carmela as lady of the manor, she really is not happy. Being fotographed is not one of her favourite things. But as always, she gets talked into it.
I really enjoyed this book, and there were suspects galore, strange and eccentric people, but the real murderer threw me for a loop. I did find her a strange person, but to be the killer? Wow.
As always, I do enjoy the antics of Carmela and Ava, Carmela a bit more classy, and happy in her little apartment with her two dogs, and her love interest, and Ava always on the prowl for a new man in her life. They go out to dinner a lot, and I enjoy reading the details about that. Carmela is a really clever lady, but she does let herself be talked into things she doesn’t really want to do.
The usual secondary characters make an appearance, and some new ones. Good and nasty. I am already looking forward to the next book, but well, that will have to wait another year.
I enjoy Laura Childs writing voice, her style, her sense of humor, and how she makes New Orleans come to life for me. I really want to wander the old streets of the French Quarter myself some day, and see the shops and restaurants and everything she has described so vividly.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian