Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: Let There be Suspects by Emilie Richards (Ministry is Murder Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Very real characters
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Christmas mystery
With characters you will love
Book to be savored

Second Mystery Not to be Missed

Let There Be Suspects is the second book about Aggie Sloan-Wilcox. She is a minister's wife trying to raise two daughters and keep family scandal down to a minimum to help her husband keep his job. You'd think that would be easy in a small town like Emerald Springs, Ohio, but murder seems to keep finding its way into Aggie's life.

Aggie is trying to put that whole finding a naked body on the front porch thing from the first book behind her. As part of that effort, she's hosting a Christmas open house for everyone in the congregation.

Things won't be as easy for her as she had hoped, however. Her free spirited mother, Junie, has planned a family reunion without consulting Aggie. Everyone is scheduled to arrive in time for the party. Still, Aggie is delighted to see her sisters, Sid and Vel and figures Junie's eccentricities won't be too much of a problem. However, Junie shows up with a bit of a surprise, their foster sister Ginger.

Ginger has a way of making enemies wherever she goes. She manipulative and controlling while appearing sweet on the outside. Junie has never seen this, but Sid was Ginger's victim one too many times during childhood, and their old rivalry leaps to life immediately, making the church's new punch bowl a causality.

Things only get worse when Ginger is murdered on Christmas Eve and her body left at the town's nativity scene. Sid doesn't have an alibi, so naturally, she becomes the chief suspect. Aggie can't stand by and let Sid take the fall, so she begins looking into Ginger's past. This turns up more new suspects then Aggie could ever hope to eliminate. Can she sort through them to find the killer before Sid goes to jail?

While I enjoyed the first entry in this series, I absolutely loved this one. Characters are obviously one of the author's strengths since the characters are very strong. Aggie and her family are very real people who leap off the page and into your hearts. This applies not only to Aggie's husband and daughters, but her sisters and mother introduced in this book. Often in a mystery series, the next characters introduced for that book are a little weak, but here even they are strong and interesting.

Adding to the fun is the plot, which moves forward quickly and had me confused until the end. There were plenty of clues and red herrings to keep me tuning in for more. There are three sub-plots, one involving a difficult family in the church and one each for the daughters. They are perfectly balanced to help showcase the characters without slowing down the mystery.

This book is an easy, fast read and has a nice sense of sarcasm about it. Aggie's first person narration keeps just the right about of fun and seriousness to the story. I couldn't help but smile at many of her observations on the events. The religion aspect is presented as a part of these character's lives and won't offend a reader of a different faith.

The next book in this series can't get here fast enough for me. I highly recommend Let There Be Suspects for cozy fans.

And you'll enjoy reading the Ministry is Murder Mysteries in order.

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