Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tragic Magic by Laura Childs

Having never scrap booked before, I wasn’t sure if I could “get into” a Scrapbooking mystery with all the references to die cuts, layout pages, embellishments, borders, etc. I didn’t have a clue. While there is some references to the craft, the story focuses on a bright, facetious character and her friends. Since reading “Tragic Magic,” the Scrapbooking aisle doesn’t scare me quite so much. 

Now for the adventures of a scrap booker:

Amateur sleuth Carmela Bertrand returns just in time to solve a murder mystery before the Galleries and Gourmets celebration sweeps through the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Carmela, owner of Memory Mine Scrapbooking shop, and her closest friend, Ava Gruiex, owner of Juju Voodoo, are still trying to keep their businesses afloat four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. They have taken on the side job of decorating Medusa Manor for their friend, Melody Mayfeldt. Melody wants to turn the manor into a spectacular haunted house in time for DiscordaCon, an upcoming horror convention.

On one of their trips to the manor, however, Carmela and Ava are greeted by a horror attraction that turns out to be murder. Melody had been pushed from a third floor window, after being set on fire, and lands dead at their feet.

Almost before the flames are extinguished, Carmela and Ava are approached by Melody’s silent partner, to continue the project at double their original fee. While considering the proposal, Carmela is besieged by Melody’s husband to find her killer.

Carmela wants to help, but she doesn’t want to upset Detective Edgar Babcock, who she’s been seeing since her separation from her womanizing, soon-to-be ex-husband, Shamus Meechum.

As if she doesn’t have enough going on, Carmela is trying to finalize an on-going divorce settlement between her and Shamus, who still acts like a fun-loving frat boy. She may have to share custody of her two beloved dogs with him. And, she also has to deal with Shamus’ overbearing sister who holds the Meechum family purse strings.

While running their businesses and following clues, Carmela and Ava are busy transforming Medusa Manor into a prime haunted house. Meanwhile, the silent partner is cozying up to the seedy real estate developer who tried to buy Medusa Manor from Melody.

Through a mix of ghost walks, tarot card readings, a séance, and cemetery visits, the reader is introduced to the mystery and mystic surrounding New Orleans and its many legends.

Even though this is a “Scrapbooking Mystery,” don’t be mislead that it’s all about page layouts, die cuts or embellishments. It’s a “keep you on the edge of your seat, lock the doors while you read” murder mystery. The story is filled with colorful characters, witty dialogue and enough plot twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.

Author Laura Childs sprinkles Scrapbooking tips and techniques throughout the story. There are suggestions and tips to delight scrap bookers, while peaking the interest of non-scrap bookers who may find themselves browsing the scrapbook aisle after reading “Tragic Magic.”

While telling a wonderful tale, Ms. Childs gives the reader a feel for New Orleans through her descriptions of the streets and businesses to the food and culture. An extra bonus is a number of delicious New Orleans recipes included in the back of the book, along with additional craft tips.

“Tragic Magic” is the seventh installment in the Scrapbooking Mystery series. First time readers of the series don’t have to know what else Carmela has been up to in the past six books in order to enjoy “Tragic Magic.” However, the captivating charm of Carmela will have readers searching for the previous installments in the series because they won’t be able to get enough of her antics.

The sights and sounds of New Orleans comes alive through the adventures of Carmela and her friends.

For more on Laura Childs, the Scrapbooking Mystery series and other series by Ms. Childs, go online to

Tragic Magic, A Scrapbooking Mystery by Laura Childs, Berkley Prime Crime, @2009. ISBN: 978-0-425-22989-7, 320 pages, hardcover.


  1. She's got some great recipes in the back, too! I thought it was cool Laura picked a New Orleans setting for this one.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. I agree the recipes and the tips are great. I think New Orleans was the perfect setting for the haunted house plot.

  3. I'm a fan of niche/hobby mysteries so I'll have to check this one out. I'm not a scrapbook hobbyist, but admire the ones I seen created by friends.

  4. It is amazing what some of the scrapbookers can create. With me, I do good to just put the photos in an album and remember to jot down who's in the photo, where and when it was taken. Thanks for following.


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