I recently received a very unusual book to review for Scrapbook Update. I’m not normally a mystery fan, but I couldn’t resist the invitation to take a sneak peek at the fourth book in Laura Child’s Scrapbooking Mystery series, Motif for Murder. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, the book’s central character is the owner of a scrapbook store who solves mysteries in her spare time. Scrapbooking and murder? I just had to see how these two could be combined.
Motif for Murder opens with the kidnapping of Carmela Bertrand’s husband and the murder of his uncle in a New Orleans that is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. What follows is the story of how the scrapbook store owner plays amateur detective and solves the crime while taking time to run her scrapbook store and deal with marital problems along the way.
Although I’ve never been to the city itself, author Childs seems to provide plenty of New Orleans atmosphere in vivid descriptions of the Garden District and French Quarter. The reader does feel like they are experiencing the unique city and its inhabitants through the words on her pages. Her central characters are equally complex, although the more minor characters can seem a bit flat at times in contrast.
For mystery fans, Motif for Murder is no heavyweight. It’s a somewhat fluffy but entertaining read. There is definately suspense for the reader though, and I personally didn’t solve the mystery until Carmela did in the book. If you are a fan of fun mysteries, such as the recent new series Psych on USA, you will like this book. If you are more a Law & Order type, you may find this a bit lightweight for your taste.
Childs also pays a lot of attention to the personal life of her heroine Carmela and her troubled marriage to the kidnapped Shamus. This was another part of the plot that served to relieve the typically heavy mystery feel of many mysteries, which pay little attention to the personal lives of their characters.
One of the most fun parts of the book are the scrapbooking tidbits sprinkled throughout the book. They lend a unique flavor to the book but do not glaringly interrupt the flow of it either. For a person with little to no interest in scrapbooking, they won’t be hit over the head with it in this book. But for a person with an interest in the topic, its presence is a very enjoyable element, including a section of scrapbooking tips at the conclusion of the book.
Another special interest included in the book is New Orleans cooking. The book pays special attention to culinary details and also includes a segment of Cajun recipes at its conclusion. Not having tried the recipes, I can’t attest to their quality, but they did make interesting reading.
Overall, I will say that as a non-mystery fan and a scrapbooker, the book was a light and enjoyable read. I will certainly look forward to picking up some of the series’ previous titles.