Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan

Paper, Scissors, Death by
A Scrapbooking Mystery with Kiki Lowenstein

Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7387-1250-7 (0738712507)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-1250-5 (9780738712507)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $14.95

Review: Joanna Campbell Slan introduces wife, mother, and scrapbooking expert Kiki Lowenstein in Paper, Scissors, Death, the first mystery in the Scrap-N-Craft series set in St. Louis, Missouri.

Kiki, husband George, and 11-year-old daughter Anya live in an upscale large home in an exclusive suburb of St. Louis. Kiki finds much delight in scrapbooking, so much so, that at times she teaches small classes in her home. Tragedy strikes this contented family’s home when George is found dead in a fashionable hotel in the city. He was naked, save for a striped scarf in his mouth. His death was ruled a heart attack by the coroner. Kiki, however, could not accept this verdict. George recently had had a complete physical examination and was found to be in perfect health. If she had to do it alone, with no help from the authorities, she would somehow prove that her husband was murdered.

She's going to get no help from her mother-in-law, though. George’s mother, Sheila, does not even try to hide the hatred she feels for Kiki. She believes Kiki stole George’s true love from him, his high school sweetheart Roxanne Baxter. When George died, Sheila devotes all her love and attention to her granddaughter, Anya. And then Kiki is informed by George’s partner shortly after his death that he had been embezzling large sums of money from their company, close to a half a million dollars. If she would pay it back in full, he would not make a public revelation of that fact. Kiki sells their home and most of their possessions to protect George’s name, moving to a more modest section of the area. But then things get really tough for Kiki when, in her search for the truth, she discovers that George had been seeing Roxanne all along. In a heated exchange with the woman, Kiki threatens her. When Roxanne is later found dead, Kiki naturally becomes the prime suspect, giving Sheila an opportunity to try to get custody of Anya. Kiki receives help and support not only from friends working on their scrapbooks, but also a very attentive detective. And could the solution to this mystery be contained within the scrap-n-craft entries in the scrapbooks themselves?

Slan cleverly frames the mystery in Paper, Scissors, Death around the craft of scrapbooking, something about which she clearly has considerable knowledge yet makes it seem approachable to beginners. Instructions, tips, and techniques are all featured. The characters, in particular Kiki, are nicely developed and likeable, and there's an enjoyable mix of humor, suspense, with a just a touch of romance in this well-rounded cozy debut.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Paper, Scissors, Death and to Midnight Ink for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Mousy housewife Kiki Lowenstein has only been good at two things in her life: scrapbooking and raising her eleven-year-old daughter, Anya. Known as the "Scrapbook Queen of St. Louis," Kiki works part-time at a scrapbook shop and shares her passion with others. But life gets sticky when her husband, George, is found naked and dead with a silk scarf stuffed in his mouth. And worse, George's business partner accuses him of having embezzled company money.

Vowing to put all the pieces together, Kiki toughens up and spouts vicious threats when George's former flame brags about their affair at a bridal shower. But when the woman is murdered, Kiki's scissor-sharp words make her a prime suspect. Faced with losing custody of Anya, can Kiki track down the cunning killer, resist the distractingly dashing Detective Detweiler, and reveal the courageous woman she is at heart?

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