I hate to admit it, but I’m reluctant to try out new authors. I love reading, but I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I stick to authors and books I know I’m going to enjoy. Occasionally, though, I leave my comfort zone for something new and different. And, boy, did that pay off the last time I did it.
I discovered Joanna Campbell Slan and her fiction debut Paper, Scissors, Death at the Manhattan Mystery Conclave a few weeks ago. I saw Joanna speak about her pet character, Gracie, and I was intrigued. So I bought her book. I had no idea what to expect from a Scrap-N-Craft mystery.
I’m not into arts and crafts. I don’t like scrapbooking. I have absolutely no visual talent and even less desire to work on anything that involves glue or sticky tape. Add to that my unfortunate dislike of first-person POV and Joanna’s book was in a tight spot. But I read it, and I loved it. In fact, I adore it.
I liked that Kiki, the cozy sleuth, had no idea what she was doing. Yes, she knew she needed to find the killer of her husband, but she had other more pressing issues to deal with first: without money or resources, she needed a job, a home, some safety in a life that was crashing down around her. Not model tall or model thin, she felt like a very real person thrust into a bad situation. She did her best, and I liked the way she rallied after each setback. Her friends, Dodie and Mert, were delightful in their no-nonsense approach to life. Detective Chad Detweiler received bonus points for cooking and gently pursuing a relationship with Kiki. (I’m so glad to hear that he’ll stick around for the next book in this series.)
Yes, Kiki used her scrapbooking knowledge to figure out the mystery behind her husband’s murder, but I didn’t have to know a thing about arts and crafts to follow along. I had an interesting glimpse into a foreign world, and I enjoyed the tour. Joanna did a great job of making me feel comfortable, explaining things and not making me feel like the clueless crafter that I am. Hey, for a moment I even wondered if I could work one of those beginner kits Kiki put together for her scrapbooking students :-)
I can absolutely recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a cozy mystery.