Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Gilt Trip & Giveaway

Summary: Louisiana businessman Jerry Earl Leland served only a fraction of his five-year sentence for white-collar crime, thanks to some political connections and a few greased palms. But he won’t have long to enjoy his freedom…

After Jerry Earl’s early release, his wife, Margo—a much-married Garden District doyenne—throws an extravagant Get Out of Jail Free Party, complete with a Zydeco band, champagne ice luge, and waiters in ties and tails. The guest list includes many prominent New Orleans socialites, as well as scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand and her best friend, Ava Gruiex. But sometime during the swirl of partying and drinking, Jerry Earl is brutally murdered—then stuffed inside a clothes dryer.
Carmela has earned a reputation around town for solving murders, and when the grieving widow turns to her for help, she can’t say no. But Jerry Earl took a lot of people to the cleaners with his underhanded business tactics, so Carmela’s going to be hard-pressed to identify which of his enemies was steamed enough to kill him. As she sorts through Jerry Earl’s dirty laundry, she needs to collar the killer before another victim is set to tumble dry… -- Berkley Prime Crime

It's been awhile since I've read a cozy for Mystery Mondays, and I have to admit that I kind of missed these fun books. It's not that I don't love the suspense and literary mysteries that I read, but sometimes I just want to something light. GILT TRIP by Laura Childs (with Diana Orgain) hit the spot.

For fans of cozies, Laura Childs is a pretty big name. She writes not only the Scrapbooking Mystery series, but she also writes the Teashop Mysteries and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries. I am more than a little embarrassed to say that I've always wanted to read one of her Teashop Mysteries, and I probably even own one or two; however, I've never read one of her books... until now.

GILT TRIP is part of Ms. Childs' Scrapbooking Mysteries, and I thought it was extremely entertaining. There is a reason why Ms. Childs has had so much success as a writer. Carmela Bertrand owns a scrapbooking store in New Orleans, but she also works as an amateur sleuth. In this eleventh novel in the series, Margo, a New Orleans socialite, asks for Carmela's assistance in getting to the bottom of the murder of her husband Jerry Earl.

Jerry Earl  has recently been released from prison after serving time for white collar crime. At his Get Out of Jail Free Party, he is not only stabbed, but thrown into a clothes dryer! Jerry Earl has managed to upset many of his business associates through the years, so there are plenty of credible suspects. Carmela, with the help of her good friend Ava, set out to investigate the events surrounding Jerry Earl's death and hopefully get to the bottom of the crime before the murderer strikes again!

GILT TRIP was exactly what I look for in a cozy! It had an intriguing crime, a unique cast of characters, and a terrific setting. There was also a lot of humor thrown into the story. I loved that the novel took place in New Orleans, and it brought back so many wonderful memories of my visits there. I had to drool when the characters ate at some of my favorite restaurants like Commander's Palace.

I also really enjoyed the fun "extras" in GILT TRIP. I was expecting some scrapbooking tips since the main character runs a scrapbooking store, but I was surprised by how helpful they were. Not only did the novel have some craft instructions as part of the story, but there was also a section at the back with additional tips. In addition, there were many recipes included at the back of the book. There was lots of references to food in the book (another reason I liked it so much), and I loved that the author included some of the recipes.

Despite all of the fun extras, GILT TRIP was a mystery... and a pretty good one at that. Like the characters, I went back and forth wondering who was responsible for Jerry Earl's murder. Even when I started to see where the story was going, I still didn't completely figure out the crime. Of course, I don't spend a ton of time trying to figure out cozies, but I was still kept guessing.

For those of you wondering, GILT TRIP works very well as a standalone novel. I'm sure there were probably a few references that I would have appreciated more if I were familiar with the characters and their pasts, but it really didn't affect my appreciation of the novel. Having said that, I enjoyed GILT TRIP so much that I now want to go back and read some earlier books in the series.

GILT TRIP was a lot of fun! Highly recommended to fans of cozies!

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Giveaway alert: I have a copy of GILT TRIP to share with one lucky reader. Even better, the author has agreed to sign and personalize the winner's copy! To enter, just fill out the form below before October 13th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!


bermudaonion said...

I've heard Laura Childs' name a lot but I've never read her work. It's been a long time since I've read a cozy - this one sounds cute!

Karen B said...

Love her books!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

Sounds fun - especially for someone who scrapbooks (like me)!

Kim@Time2Read said...

This sounds like a fun read, especially with all the crafting thrown in!