Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 7 2014, $25.95
In New Orleans, as she shuts her Memory Mine Scrapbook shop for the night while thinking what costumes to wear for the upcoming Halloween week, Carmela Bertrand hears strange noises at next door Oddities. She enters the antique shop, but trips over items and knocks things down until Carmela pushes over a wooden curio cabinet. This leads to the bloody body of Oddities’ owner Marcus Joubert falling into her arms. Instead of 911, panicked Carmela calls her boyfriend NPOD Detective Edgar Babcock followed by a call to her BFF Ava Gruix.
The victim’s assistant (and fiancée) Mavis Sweet checks inventory and insists the only missing item is an expensive French death mask; apparently making robbery the motive for murder. The police and Carmela wonder how Marcus obtained the valuable Napoleonic era antique while a second long-shot motive surfaces involving people desiring to take over the excellent store location. As Babcock investigates and warns Carmela not to, she ignores him and with Ava conducts an inquiry.
The twelfth overall lighthearted (except for the homicide and murder attempts) Scrapbooking mystery (see Gilt Trip and Postcards From The Dead) provides fans with a wonderful tour of the Big Easy just before and during Halloween week. The whodunit is cleverly disguised by the week of revelry which includes the innocent and a killer wearing masks.