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Fiber & Brimstone by Laura Childs

Laura Childs has placed her Scrapbooking Mysteries series in atmospheric New Orleans. Carmela Bertrand, the owner of Memory Mine scrapbook shop in the French Quarter, is also a part time sleuth and even more part time girlfriend of NOPD detective, Edgar Babcock. Her best friend is Ava Grieux, proprietress of Juju Voodoo, the biggest voodoo shop in New Orleans. They are volunteering to help make a giant puppet for the Monsters and Mayhem Torchlight Parade to be held Halloween night– only while they are busy making the costume at one of the Mardi Gras crew dens, the crew den head honcho is murdered. Carmela and Ava are the first on the scene after the murderer has made his escape.

We’re introduced to a dizzying number of characters who may or may not be involved in the murder. The reader accompanies Ava and Carmela through so many Halloween celebrations, special dinners and receptions, parties with both friends and enemies, and scrapbooking demonstrations that it is hard to keep all the potential culprits straight. One wonders how Carmela and Ava ever have any time for either sleep or work.

I have a hard time with the affectations of the crowd of people that inhabit this particular series, but I am always fascinated with New Orleans locations and lore. I read Child’s Scrapbook series mostly to learn more about NO and its crazy events and lifestyle. I admit to liking better both the characters and the setting of her tea shop series set in Charleston. Still, I’m glad that Childs is working on her next books in both series and, no doubt, I’ll read them both.

Liz Nichols

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