Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Murder at the PTA-Laura Alden

Murder at the PTA
Laura Alden
Obsidian, Oct 5 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451231093

After getting an amiable divorce from her husband, Beth Kennedy wants a quiet peaceful life with her two elementary school age children Jenna and Oliver. Her best friend Marina believes Beth needs to get out once in a while. Beth, after listening t her froend’s nagging, agrees to be secretary of the Rynwood, Wisconsin Tarver Elementary School PTA. The downside is that everyone in the PTA and at the school dislikes Principal Agnes Mephisto.

She is a prude who implants ideas without consulting with the staff or the PTA. Her latest idea is to use an anonymous donation to build a new building, which leads to chaos as she chooses the shape and idea of what the edifice will be. A few days later Agnes is murdered and Marina, the creator of the blog WisconSINS, encourages readers to help find the killer. She receives a death threat so she and Beth conclude they have to find the clues that will identify the killer if they are to feel safe. Beth investigates eliminating suspects until the last one standing has to be the culprit, but she refuses to believe that person is a murderer; instead she tries again from a different perspective. This time she draws a different conclusion that feels right but the killer plans to stop her before she can talk to the police.

Readers are going to appreciate this complex amateur sleuth due in large part to the main character Wisconsin bookstore owner Beth, who is a quiet pensive person preferring to remain in a rut but pushes herself for the sake of her kids. Looking for a murderer is not in her game plan, but single moms do need hobbies even those like Beth who are in hiding from life. Beth makes the tale work as Laura Alden provides an entertaining mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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