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by Tim Myers
Berkley, April 2007
240 pages
ISBN: 0425214877

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Benjamin Perkins and his large family of brothers and sisters own a soap store called Where There's Soap. His mother and grandfather rule the store with an iron hand.

It's Ben's idea to invite well-known soap maker and book writing diva Contessa New Berne to the shop to give a lecture. Unfortunately, the Contessa insists on the best of everything for her stay in town and is being such a big headache about it all that Ben is sorry he even asked her to come.

On the day of the lecture, the store is crowded with fans of the Contessa and Ben gives her introduction and she doesn't come out. He goes backstage and sees that she has been hit in the head with a hammer. The Contessa is dead!

After the police, in the person of his ex-girlfriend, is called in and the whole town hears about the murder, Ben feels that it's his fault that it all happened because he was the one who invited the woman to the store in the first place. But when he hears that his girlfriend Diana, who owns the local mystery bookstore, is the prime suspect in the murder, he can't believe it. It seems that the Contessa was the woman who had killed Diana's family in a car accident years ago. He then calls his other ex-girlfriend who is a lawyer, to help Diana.

Ben feels it's his responsibility to find the real killer; after all he has solved crimes before! Soon, after he asks many questions, he finds a large number of suspects who would have wanted the Contessa killed, including her assistant who was strangely absent from the lecture, her two unhappy ex-boyfriends, an author who claims that the Contessa plagiarized her latest work, and of course Diana too.

A MOLD FOR MURDER is one of those murder mystery cozies that has the main character, an amateur sleuth, simply ask question after question of everyone in sight until the guilty party simply just confesses and tries to escape from town and then is caught. Most of the effort in writing the book has been to talk about the home life and love connections of the main character with very little thought put into actually using deductive reasoning to solve the crime.

Though the story is supposed to also talk about soap and soap making, very little is actually said about the craft. When the family takes a class on making lotions and lip balm, I couldn't help but laugh at a class that simply has the students mix one bag with the contents of another bag. Nothing was taught about that craft at all!

Big on on-again, off-again romantic relationships for its lead character and awfully short on anything related to the murder mystery, A MOLD FOR MURDER doesn't set well with this cozy reader. As for any others in this series I'll pass.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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