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TRAGIC MAGIC


By Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime, October 2010, c2009 ($7.99 )

ISBN-10: 0425237435
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-23743-4

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Carmela Bertrand, the owner of Memory Mine, a scrapbooking and craft shop in the colorful French Quarter in New Orleans, and her flashy BFF Ava Grieux, who sells tourist trinkets at her Juju Voodoo shop, have agreed to turn the derelict Medusa Mansion into the haunted house to beat all other haunted houses for their friend Melody Mayfeldt. Things get off to a grim start when they go to the house to meet Melody, and witness a horrifying sight -- a body on fire falling from the third floor of the building. Melody is at the house, but is in no shape to discuss the project.

Carmela's current beau, Police Detective Edgar Babcock, takes charge of the murder scene. Because of her connection to the victim, she naturally wants to help the police with their inquiries, and naturally Babcock tells her to butt out. When the evidence points to another friend as the killer, Carmela refuses to believe it, and sets out to find the real murderer, getting into a lot of trouble along the way. Even though Edgar tries to keep his personal and work life separate, Carmela has ways of getting him to let his guard down and reveal a few clues.

There are lots of spooky cemeteries and spookier characters, mucho partying, and a good time is had by, not all, but most. At long last, Carmela and her soon to be ex-husband, Shamus Meecham, have arrived at an equitable divorce settlement, although Shamus's psycho older sister Glory, who controls the family money, is still fighting it. Part of Carmela's settlement is a mansion in the tony Garden District that Glory considers hers. Carmela can't really afford to live there, but getting title to it is a moral victory for her.

This is the seventh book in the Scrapbooking series, and it is just as colorful and delightful as the previous books. New Orleans is a fine place for a party, a feast, or a murder. Childs does a wonderful job of letting the reader see the grand old city through the eyes of a native. As an extra bonus, or as they say in the Big Easy, a lagniappe: recipes and scrapbooking tips in the back of the book.

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