Review by Beth Slater
Berkley Paperback: ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425214879
Date: 03 April 2007 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info
This is the third book in Myers' third series, the Soapmaking Mysteries. Our protagonist, Ben Perkins, part of a large family in a small family owned business, Where There's Soap. We open this installment with Ben welcoming a well-known soap-maker, Contessa New Berne, for a book-signing to kick off the Soap Celebration for their boutique. Ben leaves the diva alone to announce her to the waiting customers, and turns around less than 5 minutes later to find her dead in their production area. With the Contessa's assistant blatantly tardy, the Perkins' family makes the best of the situation while they await the arrival of the emergency services for a woman whose real name is unknown to them.
Ben is horrified by the murderous turn of events, especially when he discovers that the Contessa is really Connie Brown, the drunk driver who killed his girlfriend's (Diana) parents oh so long ago. Diana, as the local bookstore owner, had been arranging the book-signing for Ben, and she is horrified to find out the identity of the corpse. It gets even worse for Diana and Ben when they realize that Diana is the prime suspect. Ben calls his ex-girlfriend Kelly, a local lawyer, to represent his current girlfriend, Diana, who is a suspect in the eye of the local sheriff, ex-girlfriend Molly. Having had some success in the past, Ben decides to investigate the situation although he doesn't realize the toll it takes on his relationship with Diana. Amidst Ben's outings for interviews and in search of clues, his family decides to expand their product line to lotions and lip balm, which adds a touch of chaos to the entire scene. Ben doesn't know which suspect is the strongest - the snubbed ex-boyfriend, the poorly-paid assistant, the law-suing plagiarist, or...the orphaned bookseller?
These cozies by Myers' aren't complicated, gory, or especially deep, but they are interesting. I keep reading them, although I think it is the crafty backgrounds that draw me more than the characters. The characters have very little depth and there are a lot of them, including Ben's 6 brothers and sisters and his mother. Add in the girlfriends, current or past, and confusion reigns. Ben is so busy running around it is difficult to believe he learns anything, and his loyalty to Molly's investigative skills, which he professes to repeatedly, are belied by his repeated attempts to dig up clues behind her back.
This is a quick read with soapmaking tips in the back that crafters will enjoy to pass the time.