Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paper Scissors Death-Joanna Campbell Slan

Paper Scissors death
Joanna Campbell Slan
Midnight Ink, Feb 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780738712505

Kiki Lowenstein is in her favorite scrapbooking store Time in a Bottle when St. Louis Police Detective Chad Detweiler informs her that her husband George was found dead completely naked in an upscale hotel room. The medical examiner says he died of a heart attack, but Kiki doubts that as George had a physical six months ago with a clean bill of health. She considers investigating but instead has to deal with George’s angry partner who insists he took $500,000 out of the business.

In order to pay it back and take care of her eleven-year-old daughter Anya and their dog, Kiki sells all their major assets from their upscale home to their car; they move into a rental in a lower class neighborhood. When George’s mistress is murdered, Detweiler suspects Kiki as the killer especially in light of the fact that she threatened to kill Roxanne at a public social event in which the drunken mistress acted as if she was George’s wife. George’s mother wants custody of Anyta and someone breaks into Kiki’s home stealing her computer while trying to get CD pictures of the now infamous social event. A malicious woman arranges it so that Kiki is thrown into jail for murdering Roxanne leaving Anya with her mother-in-law. Kiki loses custody of Anya and the mother-in-law from hell gets temporary custody so Kiki has to prove she was framed with only Detweiler and her close friends believing she is innocent.

This is an electrifying combination of a family drama within a whodunit. Kiki proves she has deep inner strength that even she did not know she possessed as she goes about what she must do to provide food and shelter for her daughter following the riches to rags scenario and subsequently to regain custody. Detweiler turns from enemy to friend with the possibility of a romantic interest though Kiki calls the shots in their relationship. This adds realism to an engaging cozy as the heroine with no time to breathe let alone grieve sets out to prove her innocence and regain custody of her daughter.

Harriet Klausner