Berkley, May 2010, $24.95
Benni Harper Ortiz is the curator of the Sinclair Folk Art Museum and Artist’s Co-op. She has every intention of enjoying the San Celina Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. The Ebony Sisters Quilt Guild, a spin off of the San Celina Quilt Guild, supports an exhibit of African-American quilts. The headliner is a copy of the renowned Harriet Powers’ classic story quilt that took one year to replicate.
Benni’s plans to enjoy the fair are crushed when she learns the Powers’ duplication was stolen. She also finds out that the first black manager of the fair Levi Clark has been receiving hate mail. Trouble comes in threes when Benni finds a corpse in the Piebald Family Farm Exhibit. The victim is white male Calvin Jones, who was dating Les’ daughter and at one time was involved with supremacist skinheads. Benni and her Aunt Garnet investigate only to end up in danger from someone who kills without remorse.
It has been a few years since Benni’s last inquiry (see Tumbling Blocks), but fans of the series will appreciate her return and that of other friends as the State Fair proves an exciting venture. Putting aside the amateur sleuth too often finding a corpse (see Delectable Mountains) and need to investigate, readers will enjoy the often amusing inquiry by niece and aunt while the heroine’s grandmother has a tendency to cool the heat between Benni and her spouse Gabe. Long time fans will welcome Benni back into the fold with this enjoyable whodunit.