Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Skeleton Letters

Skeleton Letters (Scrapbooking Series - Book 9) by Laura Childs

Publication Date: October 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Hardcover, 336pp
ISBN-13: 9780425243893
ISBN: 0425243893

(Received for an honest review from the author)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Laura Childs on the WEB: website

Book Trailer:

Is nothing sacred? When a fellow scrapbooker is bludgeoned with a religious statue in historic St. Tristan's Church, it's a clear case of murder in the cathedral. But a stolen relic may hold the key to catching the culprit...

The last thing Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava expected to bear witness to in St. Tristan's Church was a crime. But now a beloved member of their scrapbooking circle is lying lifeless next to a smashed statue of St. Sebastian - and a mysterious hooded figure has absconded with an antique silver-and-gold crucifix. With the church open to the public and a popular tourist attraction, it looks like the police don't have a prayer of finding the killer.

But if anyone can get to the bottom of the crime, it's Carmela's main squeeze, Detective Edgar Babcock - with a little assistance from some scrappy sleuths. As Carmela and Ava are drawn deeper into New Orleans's French Quarter in search of the missing crucifix, they may need the help of more than a few patron saints. Because this is one killer they don't want to cross...


Laura Childs is definitely one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. The first cozy I ever read was a Laura Childs book and I've had a soft spot for her books ever since. That being said, her latest book, Skeleton Letters, the ninth book in the Scrapbooking Mystery series, is a great addition to Childs' bibliography. This particular series, one of three that Laura Childs writes is set in New Orleans and often has a darker Gothic kind of feel to it. New Orleans is synonymous with voodoo and vampires and Childs lends that atmosphere to this series, and it isn't hard to believe that something is going to go bump in the night.

Skeleton Letters is set against the back drop of a beautiful cathedral and Childs uses her descriptive powers to bring St. Tristan's to life. I liked the fact that she choose to use a religious relic as the focal point of the story. The silver-and-gold crucifix allowed Childs to dip into the significance of religious icons in the church and to craft a very engaging story that draws amateur sleuth Carmela Bertrand into the fray. Childs creates a mystery that is plausible and gives her heroine a genuine reason to be investigating.

Carmela and her friend Ava are witnesses to the murder of their friend, Bryle Coppersmith, who is a regular at Caramela's scrapbook shop, the Memory Mine. When it looks like the police aren't having much luck finding the killer, another dear friend asks Carmela to get to the bottom of it. Childs gives the reader some interesting suspects in this one, including a choir director, with a silver collection, Brother Paul, a soup kitchen advocate and a delivery man with a record, just to name a few. Childs gives just enough information to lead the reader down several paths as they try to figure out the crime along with the author. But this isn't one that easy to figure out, until Childs is ready to drop the bomb. 

One of my favorite aspects of Childs writing involves the research that obviously goes into writing any of her books. In Skeleton Letters and the other book in the Scrapbook series, the amount of detail about the city of New Orleans is phenomenal and adds so much depth to the story. Childs makes the reader feel like they are walking down the streets of the French Quarter, smelling the aroma of the food or looking at the beautiful architecture of the homes in the Garden District. She is very descriptive and her books always make me feel like I've had a taste of the city and the culture that she is writing about. 

The ending in this one was a little trite for me. I wasn't expecting it and I was really surprised at how it all played out. This may not be my favorite in the series, but it definitely has it's good points. The descriptions as usual, were so well done, the characters are very engaging and the more I learn about Carmela and Ava, the more I like them. The supporting characters with reoccurring roles like Gabby, Baby, Jekyl and Quigg add a great deal of interest to the story from many different angles. New characters are also being introduced that I'm sure we'll see in future books as well. The premise was interesting and believable. I thought this one was good addition to the series and I'm looking forward to the next one.

I recommend this one to cozy mystery fans, those interesting in religious relics and Laura Childs fans. Laura is one of my favorite cozy writers and I can't say enough good things about her writing. If you haven't tried her books yet you are really missing out!

Skeleton Letters is available TODAY at your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, and the Scrapbooking Mysteries. She is a consummate tea drinker, scrapbooker, and dog lover, and travels frequently to China and Japan with Dr. Bob, her professor husband. In her past life she was a Clio Award-winning advertising writer and CEO of her own marketing firm.


The author is graciously sponsoring a giveaway for two hardcover copies of Skeleton Letters to two winners here at Debbie's Book Bag.

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only!
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 18th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


Dolly said...

I'm really excited to read this one! I'm a scrapbooker which adds to my interest, but the overall setting & atmosphere sounds fantastic!

cyn209 said...

as always, another great giveaway!! thank you!!!
Skeleton Letters sounds interesting!!!!

Linda Kish said...

This sounds interesting. I've never been to New Orleans but I have always been fascinated with the area and would love to visit if only in the book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Martha Lawson said...

I'm new to scrapbooking, so I'm especially interested in this one!!

Theresa N. said...

She's one of my favorite cozy authors too, but I haven't read any of the scrapebooking series.
Theresa N

Tore said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good. Tore923@aol.com

Karen B said...

A favorite author of mine! I was in New Orleans back in the 60s and enjoyed all the history the city has to offer - should be a great read.


Carol N Wong said...

My first cozy was by her too! I am never disappointed by her. I love that this is set in New Orleans. Can't wait to read it!


Sue Farrell said...

I'm alway anxious to read her new cozies--they are so enjoyable.

Susan S. said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

mamabunny13 said...

I haven't read any of this series yet so if I win this book I know what to put on my Christmas list this year. lol I have a lot of catching up to do and I can wait to get started!
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

lag123 said...

I love to read books set in New Orleans, and I too appreciate all the research that Laura does.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

holdenj said...

I love this series by Laura Childs and know what you mean about research. She handled the stories after Katrina very well. Looking forward to this new title!

Nancy said...

Love Laura Child's books. Would be so nice to win.