Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: A Lie for a Lie by Emilie Richards (Ministry is Murder Mysteries #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, great mystery once it get going
Cons: Plot takes a little too long to get started
The Bottom Line:
Slow out of the gate
But fun once it gets going
Series fans will like

The Emerald Springs Idyll Turns Into a Circus (Or Something Like That)

Aggie Sloan-Wilcox isn't your normal minister's wife.  True, she attempts to help around the church and support husband Ed.  But she also seems to stumble on dead bodies.  Naturally, that creates quite the scandal in the small town of Emerald Springs, Ohio.  But Aggie can't seem to help herself, as evidenced by A Lie for a Lie, the fourth book in the series.

This summer, the town of Emerald Springs has been caught in a heat wave.  As day after day of record breaking temperatures hit the small town with no end in sight, Aggie gets drafted to help with a fund raiser.  A group is putting on a talent competition and selling tickets to each round.  One of the judges is local boy made good Grady Barber, an actor and singer who has had two big hits in his career.

Also in town this summer is SNITS (that's Sister Nora's Inspirational Tent Show), a circus and revival meeting all rolled into one.  Sister Nora insists she is on a mission from God to spread the word about global warming.  In fact, she's bought a farm outside of town on which to build a giant biosphere to survive the coming catastrophe.

Once Grady hits town, things get even hotter.  The man is a demanding jerk who doesn't think of anyone else's needs.  Which is why Aggie is hardly surprised when she finds Grady's body.  The big surprise is who the police arrest for the crime.  Are they right?  If not, can Aggie dig up the truth on her own?

I fell in love with the characters from the first book, and they didn't disappoint me here.  Aggie struggles between her free spirit upbringing and her need to be a proper minister's wife.  The two daughters she and Ed have also add color to the book.  In this case, I really liked watching the sub-plot involving 13-year-old daughter Deena acting out and how it affected the entire family.

The new characters are just as strong.  Sister Nora and her circus performers are equally memorable.  Grady is a jerk from the first time we hear about him.  Several other characters take their turns as suspects, and they all stand out as real people.

For the first time in the series, the plot could have been better.  Even if I hadn't read the back of the book first, it was obvious early who was going to be the murder victim.  But the book takes a little too long getting us there.  Once Grady dies, things pick up and the clues and suspects are strong.  I thought the climax was the best one in the series to date.

As always, the writing is strong and sure.  Aggie's first person narration is perfect for telling the story with a light touch of humor.

A Lie for a Lie might not be the strongest book in the series, but don't let that stop you.  A visit to Emerald Springs is always time well spent.

When you are ready for your next trip, check out the Ministry is Murder Mysteries in order.

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