A Scrapbooking Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2014
From the publisher—
Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre
An evening’s work deciding on the class schedule for her scrapbooking shop has put Carmela in the mood to kick up her heels. But after some strange noises draw her into Oddities, the neighboring antiques shop, Carmela’s night is abruptly put on hold when a bloody body falls out of a curio cabinet—and into her arms.
While shop owner Marcus Joubert was known for being an eccentric with a penchant for eclectic merchandise, Carmela never thought he was the kind of man who could inspire the passion required to kill. But when Marcus’s assistant—and fiancée—Mavis reveals that a priceless death mask was also stolen, it becomes clear that murder wasn’t the culprit’s sole intention.
Carmela can’t resist the urge to investigate the growing mystery, but as the list of suspects increases, she realizes it’ll take every trick in the book to unmask the killer thief before there’s another night of murderous mischief .
Carmela is one of those protagonists who appeal to me even while they sometimes make me gnash my teeth. In an earlier book, she plucked my last nerve with her reckless snoopiness but I continued to follow her adventures and became a bit more accustomed to her ways somewhere along the line. So, yes, she’s snoopy when she thinks something might be wrong in Marcus’ shop but I just rode along with all her excuses and thought nothing of it. And, don’t you know it, her nosiness turns out to be justified. I also enjoyed the thought of the body falling into her arms and I LOVE this—
And still Carmela continued to scream.
When nobody showed up to help, when nothing seemed to be accomplished by her loud screeches of protest, she let out a garbled cough and closed her mouth with a snap.
That is Carmela—scenestealing, loud, annoying, and then she pulls herself together for the job at hand. And with that, she calls her boyfriend, Detective Edgar Babcock, who just happens to be on the scrumptious side as well as eternally patient with his girlfriend, and then immediately dials her friend and sleuthing partner, Ava Gruiex.
So, why would anyone want to kill Marcus? Granted, he was kind of weird but was that enough, along with the theft of a priceless artifact, to make someone want him dead? Carmela being Carmela, this clearly calls for a little sniffing around and, next thing you know, she and Ava are mixed up with Carmela’s least favorite countess, an antiques dealer with a fake British accent and a shady pawn shop operator, not to mention the Zombie Crawl and the Witches Run.
Fans of Ms. Childs—and they are legion—will love this return to Carmela’s exploits. Besides a cracking good mystery and a lot of engaging characters, one thing I’ve always loved about this series is the setting in New Orleans and Gossamer Ghost is no exception. Ms. Childs has a deft and colorful hand with her descriptions and she transported me right to Halloween with all its festivities and joie de vivre. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this wonderful city just once, many years before Katrina, and Gossamer Ghost reminds me of that time. Ms. Childs makes me want to go back and I think a Halloween trip might be in my future travel plans. I just wish Oddities, my kind of shop, really existed 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.