Today’s long overdue post focuses on Photo, Snap, Shot by Joanna Campbell Slan (author site at http://www.joannacampbellslan.com/). Photo, Snap, Shot is the third in the Kiki Lowenstein scrapbooking series (series site at http://www.joannacampbellslan.com/kikilowenstein.php). An excerpt of this book is available at http://www.youpublish.com/files/29654/Photo,-Snap,-Shot.
Product description: Old money and tradition are the hallmarks of the St. Louis prep school that Kiki Lowenstein’s daughter Anya attends. But the elite academy is stamped with scandal when Anya finds the dead body of teacher Sissy Gilchrist in its elegant theatre. Even worse, Anya might have seen the killer.
Pegged as a shameless flirt and a lousy teacher, Sissy would’ve made everyone’s “least popular” scrapbook page. Especially for those who were seeing red over Sissy’s mixed-race romance with a colleague. Fearing her daughter is in danger, Kiki sifts through the school community’s many shocking secrets to pin down the murderer, while doing all she can to avoid starring in her own memorial album.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I could relate to a character named Kiki Lowenstein. I didn’t read this book when I first received it, which is very unusual for me. I love scrapbo0king, but I was really unsure what to expect. Those preconceived reader notions are important here because that made this book an even more interesting read; it turns out that Kiki has a similar problem in it. She clearly has a chip on her shoulder when it comes to the “Old Money” people of St. Louis. Kiki’s cast of suspects reads like the who’s who of the society pages, making Kiki herself very uncomfortable as she has to confront her own prejudices. As Kiki pulls her shoulders back and tackles that chip, we explore each woman (as a suspect or potential friend) as Kiki comes to know her and learn that she is more than an archetype. As Kiki grew into a more open and accepting person, I grew as a reader; I learned to relate to a character that I had perceived (unjustly?) as very, very different than I.
And while I don’t want to give too much away for future readers, I do want to explore the plot just a bit. This mystery focuses on a dead body that Kiki’s daughter Anya discovers. Kiki is determined to protect her daughter so she spends her spare moments between work at a scrapbook shop and running her daughter to golf practice getting to know the elite society of St. Louis so that she can solve the crime and keep the focus away from her daughter. What she uncovers, though, is a deeply embedded racism that affects everyone tied to the private school where the murder victim taught and Anya attends. This exposure of the institutional racism in elite society and in private schooling is another thing that makes this book more than just a “cozy,” makes us grow instead of just read.
I enjoyed this book. The scrapbooking tips built into the story were fun, and it was nice to read about a hobby I enjoy. I hope to read the others in the series. I was lucky enough to receive this book as a gift from the author for review purposes, but the review is honest, and I do recommend the book. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.