Monday, August 1, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Foul Play at the PTA

Foul Play at the PTA (PTA mysteries - Book 2) by Laura Alden

Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 320pp
ISBN-13: 9780451234087
ISBN: 0451234081

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mysteries)

Laura Alden on the WEB: website, facebook

Excerpt from Foul Play at the PTA



PTA meetings at Tarver Elementary School can get pretty heated. But after PTA member Sam Helmstetter is strangled in his car following a meeting, Beth and her best friend, Marina, fear there may be a cold-blooded killer in the group.

Meanwhile, rumors spread that Beth's newest employee at her children's bookstore is the murderer. Yvonne served time for a similar crime, but DNA evidence eventually proved her innocent. As the new PTA vice president organizes a boycott of the bookstore and the real killer roams the streets of Rynwood, Wisconsin. Beth realizes she'll need to stick her own neck out to catch an elusive strangler.


Author Laura Alden's sophomore effort in the PTA mystery series, Foul Play at the PTA will have cozy fans on their toes. With lots of action and tons of sub-plots this is one cozy that might have readers baffled. Alden's strength is in her mult-layered and intriguing characters including heroine Beth Kennedy, a working mom, book store owner, and PTA secretary. Alden's intuitive writing style and her ability to draw the reader in are exemplary in this complex and interesting new mystery.

Beth Kennedy finds herself smack dab in the middle of another mystery when PTA member Sam Helmstetter is found strangled in the school parking lot after a PTA meeting. Beth blames herself for changing the meeting day due to employee problems at her book store, but tries to hold off becoming involved in the murder. But when it starts to affect her business she has to step in. After hiring an employee that was once convicted of murder but exonerated by DNA evidence, Beth isn't surprised when the locals begin to suspect Yvonne. Considering that Sam didn't seem to have any enemies, perhaps the murder is random? Or is it...

The second book in the PTA murder series by Laura Alden finds heroine Beth Kennedy up to some more amateur sleuthing. Alden has a way of giving readers characters who are believable and every day people. The kind of person who lives down the block or up the street who is just trying to make it in today's world. Beth is one such character. She's a single mom with two kids who is all about giving her kids everything she has to offer. She has regular everyday problems like everybody else, from disagreements with her ex-husband to employee difficulties at work, yet she still finds the time to be a part of the PTA at her children's school. This is the kind of character that will really resonate with readers. She is easy to identify with and comes across as somewhat of an underdog, making readers want to root for her success in every circumstance. Foul Play at the PTA is character driven and Alden does a fantastic job of allowing the reader to become engaged and fully into the story. But if for whatever reason you didn't like Beth you probably wouldn't like this book.

When reading a mystery of an kind I always find myself thinking about whether the scenario the writer created is plausible. Could this really happen in real life? Is this a real motive for murder or just a clever idea to write a story around... I was excited about reading this one because I have kids, I'm a single mom and most of us who have ever been to a school board meeting, a PTA meeting or even a little league game know that people get a little heated when it comes to issues that affect their children and I could definitely see someone getting teed off at a PTA meeting and having an altercation in the parking lot. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to think they'd murder someone over something so minor but people have been murdered for less. Though this didn't turn out exactly like I thought it would, the mystery aspect of the story was well written and had me guessing all the way to the end.

If I had any criticism it would be that we don't learn much about the real killer or the real motive until the final few chapters. The reason it was so hard to figure out whodunit was because there was just sooo much more going in this book. Beth's everyday life created a lot of sub-plots that maybe took some of the zing out of it. That's not to say that readers won't love learning more about Beth and Marina and the rest of the town, but I thought she should have weaved in more details about the killer toward the beginning and middle of the book. However, I definitely enjoyed this one and look forward to the next in the series. I recommend it to cozy readers who enjoy a lighter side to their mysteries. Reader who enjoy books that are character driven and full of background details and information will love this one as well.

Foul Play at the PTA is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

Laura grew up in southwestern Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology.

Except for a year in Connecticut, she’s lived in the Midwest all her life. Currently, Laura and her husband share their house with two very strange cats. When Laura isn’t writing her next book, she’s working at her day job, reading, singing in her church choir, or doing some variety of skiing. She’s fond of long soaks in the tub, red raspberries, and deep blue skies.

Murder at the PTA is Laura’s debut novel. It was released in October 2010 and is the first book in the PTA Mysteries series.


Obsidian has offered one copy of Laura Alden's book, Foul Play at the PTA for giveaway to one winner her at Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only! (Publisher Request)
~ The Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST Aug. 15th.

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


StephTheBookworm said...

Now this sounds like fun! The title really caught my eye!

Linda Kish said...

Sometimes it's nice to read something a bit lighter, I think.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Martha Lawson said...

I'm just starting to read cozy mysteries and this one sounds awesome.

Becky said...

I have this book on my TBR list. I can't wait to read it. Thanks.

cyn209 said...

thank you for this giveaway!!! can't wait to read it!!!!

lag123 said...

I have not heard of this series. I must get started!

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Unknown said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I can't wait to read your book.

Karen B said...

Nothing like a little mystery and mayhem at the PTA! Just added to my wish list.

In Julie's Opinion said...

Your book sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway :) I've been to a few PTA meetings, and I can see how trouble could be started there (tempers certainly do flare there)!!
jwitt33 at live dot com

Susan S. said...

sounds like a very good book! nothing beats a mystery!

ann said...

Enter me to win this book it sounds like one I would enjoy

amhengst at verizon dot net

Carol M said...

I enjoy reading cozies and would love to read this one! It sounds good!
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

YAY! Another great sounding book!

Anita Yancey said...

Sounds like my kind of mystery. I would love to read this one.