Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: The Silver Needle Murder, by Laura Childs (2009)

The Silver Needle Murder by Laura Childs:

Delaine took in their little exchange. "I was going to flirt with C.W. myself tonight, honey. But it looks like you made a mighty big impression on him."

"Not my intention," whispered Theodosia. "Especially when Parker is hovering in the kitchen and there are sharp knives all around."

Delaine gave a little shiver. "There's nothing like having two men fight over you. So romantic and thrilling. Reminds me of earlier times when men actually fought duels over women." She got a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes. "Gee, those were good times."

"Not for the men they weren't," replied Theodosia.

Synopsis: Charleston goes Hollywood by hosting their own film festival. Hands up if you know why that's a terrible idea.

(Note: There's a book in the series between this one and Blood Orange Brewing, Dragonwell Dead, which is possibly my favorite in the series. So we're skipping a little ahead here.)

As Detective Tidwell so succinctly puts it: "The images of two people made enormous by a rear screen projection. Five hundred witnesses in the audience. Yet no one can identify the killer."

During the kick-off to Charleston's first annual film festival, a big-name Hollywood director is shot and killed (see above), and as one of the suspects is the granddaughter of a dear friend, tea shop proprietor and dead body magnet Theodosia Browning agrees to investigate.

I'm sure you can imagine what happens next. Sneaking into crime scenes! Recovering vital evidence! Being attacked by unseen predators! Eliminating suspects! Running a tea shop!

Seriously, I continue to really like that Theodosia busts her buns with making her business a success, and that's skillfully worked into the plot. With only three people running a busy eatery, it is really hard to hair around investigating, and Theo gets that. It does help that all her suspects drop by the tea shop on a regular basis, but that too makes sense.

The plot's kind of odd, and a little thin in places, but the quality of the writing is high, which makes me forgive quite a bit. It does not make me forgive the contrived ending, however, where Theodosia pulls facts about South Carolina out of her ass to put two and two together and then has to out-cop a cop. That...there's strained credibility, and then there's my eyes rolling back in my head with a merry clink.

However, as long as you're not a stickler about such things, and enjoy incredibly detailed settings and lush writing, you'll enjoy this book, whether as a standalone or as a solid entry in the series as a whole.


There is also a Grade A all-out *clever* body-discovery scene that I thought was truly jaw-dropping. To wit, during the red-carpet awards night party, there is a long, long buffet box filled to the brim with ice and seafood, which--points right there for imagery--but then as Theo pulls out a crab claw, she brings up a human hand with it.

Sure, it made no sense plotwise as far as why the killer wanted the body discovered in such a manner or, you know, how they managed to get it there under the eyes of all the caterers and guests, but it was indeed, ART.

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