Parchment and Old Lace
A Scrapbooking Mystery, Book #13
By Laura Childs and Terrie Moran
Author’s website: http://www.laurachilds.com/scrapbook.php
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The New York Times bestselling author of Gossamer Ghost returns to the Big Easy and the historic Garden District, where scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand discovers a bride-to-be murdered in the legendary Lafayette Cemetery…
Carmela couldn’t imagine a finer evening than dinner at Commander’s Palace with her beau, Detective Edgar Babcock. The food and the company are equally divine—with the exception of Isabelle Black stopping by to brag about her upcoming wedding. Resuming the romance with a walk in the evening air, the couple is interrupted once again—this time by a terrifying scream from inside the cemetery.
Having just seen Isabelle, Carmela and Edgar now find her lying across an above-ground tomb, strangled to death with a piece of vintage lace. Carmela would rather leave the investigating to Edgar, but she can’t say no to Isabelle’s sister Ellie, the tarot card reader at Juju Voodoo, when she asks her to help. As she untangles the enemies of Isabelle’s past, Carmela hopes she can draw out the killer before someone else gets cold feet.
Parchment and Old Lace opens with a delightfully romantic dinner for Carmela and Edgar. As evenings often proceed for a police detective, however, the night took a sudden turn for the worse as they heard the scream of an acquaintance, and the bride-to-be is found murdered in the nearby cemetery. As often happens, Carmela, owner/ manager of the Memory Mine, a scrapbook memory-making shop, was asked to help find Isabelle’s murderer by her sister, Ellie. Edgar does not want Carmela to help as he doesn’t want her involved in a murder investigation, but he does ask for ideas on where to find the special item that was central to the terrible crime.
This is the thirteenth cozy of the series, and it is so well written that it could be read as a stand-alone. This is the first book I have read by Laura Childs, and it will not be my last. I have read novels by Terrie Farley Moran, Ms. Childs’ co-author, which made reading this a must! I was not disappointed, even though I rarely read books that include various mystic arts. After all, it is New Orleans, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time! The setting definitely sounded charming, from the architecture to the various shops and museums.
Parchment and Old Lace has action, mystery, murder, and plot twists and turns that really kept me on my toes. The color and charm of New Orleans were brought to life through descriptives of where we follow our friends who going about their daily lives or who are in pursuit of the bad guy/ gal. It was impressive that Carmela, Gabby (her assistant and close friend), and their friends are known and loved amongst the locals, which demonstrated a sense of community of people who care for and about each other. Gabby and Carmela have made Memory Mine a welcoming shop where their talents are in demand to lead classes and help with advice on many of the customers’ special projects. I am ‘gobsmacked’ to see somebody make a set of covers, various papers and stickers, and flowers into something beautiful and useful, or design favors for parties and weddings.
The men and women who have been part of the series are three-dimensional and very likable – well, most of them are. After all, someone had to commit the heinous crime, and there are usually one or two people in everybody’s life who might be hard to get along with. The characters who are in the story for just this point in time are defined as much as necessary to reflect their role. Just when much of her life seemed calm, someone from Carmela’s past appears. Was this person really trying to help or to deceive her? Carmela has an energy that is invigorating, rushing the reader from one page to the next without missing a single moment of excitement.
Who has the most to hide? Would it be the best man, or maybe the bridegroom’s mother, who could buy and sell half of the Quarter? Trying to determine who had the most to lose was an exercise in logic. There was no logic, though, to how I guessed the bad guy/ gal; I had to find out if I was right for the “whodunit” and learn the “why-dunit”. It doesn’t mean that the mystery is too easy, rather that I made a lucky guess – you know, the blind squirrel finding the acorn thing…In any event, this awesome read is a must for anyone who has enjoyed other books in the series, want to take an armchair visit to New Orleans, enjoy scrapbooking and decorative arts, and love well-written mysteries. I highly recommend it!