Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Beware False Profits by Emilie Richards (Ministry is Murder Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters and complex plot
Cons: Plot occasionally slows for a few pages
The Bottom Line:
Great plot, characters
I could not get enough of
Pages just fly by

No Need to be Wary.  Embrace These False Profits.

Aggie Sloan-Wilcox is a minister's wife in the small town of Emerald Springs, Ohio. While husband Ed ministers to the congregation, Aggie attempts to stay out of scandal and raise their two daughters. That staying out of scandal part isn't as easy as it sounds, however. She's already been part of two murder investigations, and Beware False Profits is her third case in less then a year.

Aggie and Ed are enjoying a weekend away in New York City. But their weekend alone comes to a quick end when they learn that Joe Wagner, a member of their congregation, has vanished while in New York on business. Following the few clues they have, they learn the last place he had been seen was a club where he performed as a female impersonator.

They arrive back in Emerald Springs, Ohio, just in time for Mayday!, the annual fundraiser for the local food bank Joe managed. The fact that he's not there for it means something must have happened to him.

But Joe's disappearance takes a back seat when the mayor's wife dies during the fundraiser. Hazel Kefauvers was a difficult person always sticking her nose into everything. She'd just been made chair of the food bank's board and was making life difficult for everyone. Is that why she died? What part does Joe's disappearance play in the murder? And can Aggie find the missing punch bowl?

As with previous entries in the series, this is a fun cozy mystery. In addition to the main mystery, there are several sub-plots that make the characters that much richer. A couple of them do eventually tie into the main story, but a couple, like the series long gag with Aggie and the church's punch bowl, don't. The multiple sub-plots did slow down the story once or twice, but not for very long.

And the main mystery itself is very strong. Once or twice, I thought I had something figured out, but I turned out to be wrong. The climax was surprising yet completely satisfying.

As has been the case with earlier books in the series, the characters are rich and full. Aggie is resourceful, yet sometimes too quick to judge others. Still, she has a good heart. The daughters are real kids, although I do wonder sometimes if the younger daughter is completely realistic. Still, I loved her sub-plot so much I really don't care. The new characters we meet along the way are well developed. While not as rich as the series regulars, they are appropriately developed for the page time they have.

All this is held together by the writing. While not a super fast read, there are no flaws with the writing. The story is told first person from Aggie's point of view, and Aggie's occasional asides add some humor to the mystery.

While this book does have a religious setting, it is never overpowering. Religion is part of these character's lives, but the book never becomes preachy.

I can't wait to read Aggie's further adventures. If you enjoy a great cozy mystery, don't miss Beware False Profits.

And if you want more, you'll want to read the Ministry is Murder Mysteries in order.

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