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Crepe Factor
Scrapbooking Mystery #14
Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran

Berkley Prime Crime
October 4, 2016/ ISBN 978-0-425-26670-0
Mystery/Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


There is always a lot of activity in the French Quarter, but the holiday season is especially busy. The Winter Market features a wide variety of booths, but the food booths are among the most popular. Scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand and her best friend Ava are out for an evening, enjoying the market, when nasty restaurant critic, Martin Lash dies right before their very eyes. It wasn’t a natural death, either. Lash was stabbed by a serving fork, and now restaurateur Quigg Brevard is the chief suspect. Lash and Brevard had a public altercation not long before the murder because of a particularly bad review Lash wrote about Brevard’s restaurant, Mumbo Gumbo, claiming it deserved a two-star negative review.

Quigg was once, briefly, Carmela’s boyfriend and he now pleads with her to do some independent investigating for him. After all, she’s been able to solve several other murders before the police could. Carmela is torn, though, as her serious flame is Detective Edgar Babcock, and he has made no bones about how he feels about her investigating crimes when it is his job to do so and she has put herself in grave danger in the past.

If you’ve read any of the previous books in this series, you can see where this is going; Carmela snoops, Babcock is furious, Quigg begs her to keep helping him, and she puts her life on the line in order to solve the crime.

I almost always love anything Laura Childs writes. Crepe Factor wasn’t my favorite, though. It felt too familiar and predictable for my tastes. The characters seemed out of character compared to previous books. Carmela was always smart and didn’t rush headlong into danger and then become terrified. Ava has always been a free-spirit, but in this book, she seems to just want to wear cheap looking clothes and drink all the time. The plotting was clear enough that I knew from the beginning who the killer would be and why, but to a novice mystery reader, it might not be that way.

There are many good things about the book. I love the New Orleans setting, and the vivid descriptions of life there, from the French Quarter to the bayous. I enjoy the scrapbooking and craft ideas throughout the story and the special sections with instructions and also specialty food recipes at the back of the book.

Hopefully, if the series continues, the main characters will turn back into themselves, and perhaps even grow a little and show some maturity. If you are a fan who has followed the scrapbooking mysteries from the beginning, you won’t want to miss this one because there is a special surprise awaiting you!

Reviewed 2016