Book Review: SKELETON LETTERS by Laura Childs

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Series: A Scrapbooking Mystery, #9
Publisher: Berkley
Released: October 4, 2011
Source: Review copy from publisher

New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs sends her scrappy sleuths into New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Is nothing sacred? The last thing Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava expected to bear witness to in St. Tristan’s Church was a crime. But now a beloved member of their scrapbooking circle lies lifeless next to a smashed statue of St. Sebastien-and a mysterious hooded figure has absconded with an antique crucifix.

As Carmela and Ava are drawn deeper into New Orleans’ French Quarter in search of the missing crucifix, they may need the help of more than a few patron saints. Because this is one killer they don’t want to cross…

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SKELETON LETTERS is the ninth book in Laura Childs’ A Scrapbooking Mystery series. The book started out strong by setting up an intriguing mystery. Carmela Bertrand, the owner of a scrapbooking shop, and her best friend Ava witness the murder of their friend Bryle by someone hidden under a monk’s robe inside St. Tristan’s Church. The murderer also stole a priceless religious artifact uncovered in an archeological dig on church grounds. Because Bryle was their friend, Carmela and Ava start doing some digging of their own to uncover the guilty party.

After reading the first couple of chapters, I had very high hopes for the story, but in the end it was just okay. There were some parts of this book that worked for me, and others that didn’t. The characters were fun, and I loved the friendship between Carmela and Ava. I have not read the previous books, but right away I felt like I was up to speed on the whos and whats of the series. I adore books set in New Orleans, and the author did a great job bringing the city to life. I especially loved hearing about the New Orleans cuisine!

As far as drawbacks go, there were a couple of things that I struggled with. I thought the pacing of the story was slow at times. Part of the reason was that there were scenes that veered off from the murder mystery, like calligraphy classes, event planning, etc. I love the interesting and sometimes quirky occupations in cozy mysteries, but I want the story to stay focused on the mystery. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll just say that I thought the ending was strange, as in who the murderer was and why. It left me scratching my head!

I’d say SKELETON LETTERS was a 2.75 out of 5 star read for me. I think those who have read the previous books in the series or are hardcore scrapbookers may appreciate it more than I did. I would like to know the history between Carmela and her ex-husband Shamus, so I plan to check out the earlier books. The first three books are available in one volume under the title DEATH BY DESIGN.

Rating: 2¾ Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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