For my first book of the Cozy Mystery Challenge, I chose Keepsake Crimes (2003) by Laura Childs. I picked this book from the Cozy Mystery website which organizes mysteries by themes. I was very interested in a scrapbooking theme since scrapbooking is a hobby of mine.
This was the first book in a series of seven so far. It focuses on Carmela Bertrand whose estranged husband Shamus is evidently suspected of murder. Carmela owns her own scrapbooking store, Memory Mine, where we meet her merry band of friends, including an interesting BFF Ava.
The setting of the book is New Orleans during Mardi Gras. And, that for me, was the biggest problem of the book. I picked it up for its “scrapbook theme” and found that the details about New Orleans and Mardi Gras would have really qualified that (New Orleans / Mardi Gras) as the theme. I just wasn’t quite as interested in the parade and mask making details as I was the scrapbooking. And, while I love cooking themed cozies like those by Joanne Fluke, I didn’t expect the recipe details or the recipes included in the back of the book. It just seemed like way too much. I wanted one (scrapbooking) without the other.
The other real issue that I had with the book is that I didn’t find much mystery. Yes, Shamus is suspected of murder, but Carmela does not investigating / solving except for one scene when she follows a man to a hotel and finds out that he is having an affair with the deceased’s wife.
Having gotten the bad out of the way, I did find that I liked Carmela more toward the end of the book after seeing her worry about her dress / looks compared to a friend and tangle with her emotions about the maybe-to-be ex hubby. Those moments left her feeling younger and more easy to relate to.
I am going to try the next in the series Photo Finished before I give it up. I did read one scrapbooking technique about weaving that I had not seen before and would like to try. If it is as eloquent as Carmela claims, that will have made the read worth it alone.