Friendships centered around scrapbooking and an authentic New Orleans setting are two of the most beguiling aspects of this mystery from popular cozy author Childs. Her main character, scrapbook store owner Carmela, has a knack for crime solving and a compelling mix of skill, creativity and warmth.

When a friend asks her to help with a pre-wedding dinner at a French Quarter restaurant, Carmela agrees to create custom place settings. But the celebration turns funereal when Carmela discovers the groom's body stabbed with a kitchen knife. At the devastated bride's behest, Carmela agrees to help find the killer and soon uncovers several likely murderers.

Creepy scenes in New Orleans and a hair-raising experience on the Louisiana bayou make this murder plot truly suspenseful. However, the denouement doesn't hold up to the promise of the beginning. The identity of the culprit was obvious too soon, and other suspects' motives were never satisfactorily explained. (Nov. '04, 256 pp., $5.99)
Reviewed by: 
Cindy Harrison