Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Death Swatch by Laura Childs

First line: It wasn't that Carmela didn't like Mardi Gras.

From the inside cover: Amid zydeco rhythms and popping champagne corks, bead-draped revelers are moving into the streets, and Jekyl Hardy is playing host to a party in his elegant French Quarter apartment. On a wild night like this, anything can happen. The guests - including Carmela - never imagine it will be murder. But as the evening progresses, Jekyl's neighbor, float designer Archie Baudier, is found on the balcony strangled with a barbed wire garrote.

The only things wilder than the crime are the far-flung theories about who did it - from a ritualistic slaying to a mob hit to the outlandish work of a rival Mardi Gras float builder. Handsome detective Edgar Babcock isn't buying any of it. Neither is Carmela, and the odd clues are bringing out the sleuth in her: gold paint on the victim's shoes, a strange coin found next to his body, his ransacked apartment, and the peculiar fact that no one at the party really knew him. Only one thing is clear: Whoever killed Archie is following Carmela - straight into the chaos of Mardi Gras.

My thoughts: This is the sixth book in Laura Child's scrapbooking mysteries series and it was a fun, quick read. Death Swatch is set against the backdrop of Mardi Gras in a post-Katrina New Orleans. Invited to a kickoff celebration by friend Jekyl Hardy, Carmela once again stumbles upon a dead body. Because the party and the ensuing death happened at his residence, Jekyl becomes a prime suspect in the crime. He then begs Carmela to help him clear his name and find their friend's killer - a plea Carmela can't ignore. Off on an adventure they won't be quick to forget, Carmela and pal, Ava, are taken through the glamour of old New Orleans, the building of Mardi Gras floats, and some scary times in a lonely bayou in search not only of the murderer but also of long-hidden treasure. We again meet a bunch of quirky characters, including an imposing Russian Mafioso, an unlikely museum curator, and a sullen coin dealer, and find out what is going on with some familiar characters of the series, Detective Edgar Babcock, Shamus, and of course, Glory, Shamus's older sister. Filled with lots of interesting information about the city of New Orleans, along with great scrapbooking tips and some mouth-watering recipes, Death Swatch will have you guessing right up to the end who did it.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

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