The eighth book in the Scrapbooking Mysteries series, published October 2010.
With its history of spooky folklore, New Orleans offers the perfect atmosphere for Halloween. But when real corpses start turning up, scrappy sleuth Carmela Bertrand dresses up as a detective in time for the holiday…
With the help of her best friend, Ava Gruiex, Carmela is building a giant monster puppet for the French Quarter’s gala Halloween Monsters & Mayhem parade. Things get terrifying earlier than expected when they overhear an argument between Jekyl Hardy and Brett Fowler- and just minutes later they find Fowler's body, his heart pierced by the horns of a Minotaur head.
Carmela can't believe Jekyl is guilty, despite the fact that Fowler owed him money. Fowler owed a lot of people money after his involvement in a Ponzi scheme, making every investor a suspect. But when another victim is discovered-who also had an unfriendly relationship with Jekyl-Carmela is convinced someone is framing her friend and now must find a way to unmask the real killer.
Well, this book certainly was published at the right time! Filled with Halloween fun and atmosphere. How I wish I could see it with my own eyes someday!
Carmela and Ava are busy working on a mechanic puppet for the Halloween Monsters and Mayhem parade, a design gig for the Art Institute in the same hall where other members of the Pluvius Crew are working on floats or Monsters. Ava’s assistant Miguel is helping them, as he will be the one doing the parade inside the Monster. The obnoxious Captain of the Pluvius Crew, Brett Fowler, wants them to clear the space as it is time to lock up, but first he wants a word with their designer friend Jekyl Hardy. As Jekyl still is owed money from the last Mardi Grass floats he designed, and Brett is constantly threatening to bring in an other designer, and Jekyls biggest competitor, he is not happy with that.
Carmela and Ava are wrapping up their monster, when they hear some inhuman screams outside. Running there, they find a dead Brett Fowler, and the head of the Minotaur that was to be used in the parade as well. Someone gutted Brett with its horns! Carmela’s sweetie, homicide inspector Edgar Babcock rushes to the scene. To Carmela’s dismay, he is naming Jekyl as the number one suspect, as he was arguing with Brett just minutes before the murder. In her shock, she cannot name any of the other members in the hall that evening, although there were about twenty people around.
The following morning when she is entering her scrapbooking shop Memory Mine, she is accosted by her assistant Gaby, who has read about the whole thing in the paper. To her dismay, Carmela is mentioned as a witness to the murder, though she only discovered the body. But there is more: the feds were already after Brett and his company for a Ponzi scheme! So there are sure to be lots of investors angry enough with Brett to kill him. People who will have lost their live savings or large amounts of money. And then there is the almost ex-wife, and the new young girlfriend. The wife is not really grieving, as she has found someone to console her as well.
Then another man is murdered during the after party of the opera Ava and Carmela have attended, and Ava and Carmela are ofcourse the ones to stumble onto him when they are lost in the dark catacombs of the theater. Not a pretty sight. Luckily, Ava’s new boyfriend is there to console her, and Edgar Babcock shows up soon as well. But not to console Carmela, only to warn her away from the investigations. The police will handle it, and she should not put herself in danger! As the dead man happens to be Jekyls biggest rival, Jekyl is again murder suspect numero uno. And Carmela just won’t have that. She starts asking some discreet questioning, but soon Ava and Carmela finds themselves in danger during a nice boat trip in the swamps.
Carmela’s previous boyfriend, the rich and gorgeous entrepreneur and restaurateur has asked Carmela to design the bottle labels and logo for the vineyard he recently purchased. Carmela and Ava have been treated to a lovely dinner, and wine tasting at his restaurant, and have now had a tour of the vinery, just outside New Orleans. The wines taste really good, and although Carmela was reluctant as she has so little time at the moment, she has agreed. Which is not to the liking of Babcock, who is a bit jealous.
Okay, not spoiling anymore of the story. I loved this book, and read it pretty fast. I loved all the Halloween themed parties and events Ava and Carmela attended, Carmela a little bit more careful then Ava, who just goes all out at these events.
The mystery was a good one. I had a little hunch about the killer, but not a single clue to the why. The end was very exciting as always, and luckily Carmela and Edgar make up at the end.
Of course Carmela’s obnoxious ex-husband Shames makes a few appearances, and really, some men never do grow up. And so does his crazy sister Glory, who really hates Carmela. She never thought Carmela good enough for her baby brother, and hates that Carmela got the house in the divorce. Not that Carmela plans to go living there again, she loves her little apartment which she is slowly filling with some nice antiques and the knickknacks she adores.
I really love this series. The atmosphere of New Orleans and especially the French Quarter are awesome, and the descriptions by Laura Childs make everything come to life. Ava and Carmela are two characters I like a lot, and the usual cast of secondary characters really fill the story up. It is fun catching up with everyone once a year.
A lazy Sunday for me, filled with cozy mystery reading. Perfect for a dreary day.
And of course, there are scrapbooking tips in the back, and some original New Orleans recipes.
Question: would extra’s like that sway you to buy a book or not? I just want to read the story as this is one of my favourite authors of cozies, and am totally not interested in scrapping or cooking myself.