It’s all trick, and no treat, when the owner of the scrapbooking store Memory Mine, Carmela Bertrand, and her best friend Ava Gruiex stumble upon the dead body of Brett Fowler, one of New Orleans’ most notorious float krewe captains. Soon the friends are “in a jam” when their good friend Jekyl Hardy becomes the number one suspect and asks for help—Carmela’s boyfriend is the lead homicide detective on the case, after all. Turns out plenty of people had reason to hate Fowler. He was running a Ponzi scheme that left a lot of people high and dry, including Carmela’s mean-spirited ex-sister-in-law who hired a thuggish private detective to investigate the fraud. Fowler’s widow isn’t exactly upset about his demise either, in the face of evidence of his philandering.
Readers of previous Scrapbooking Mystery titles will enjoy seeing Carmela continue to move on from ex-husband Shamus Meechum—even if her current relationship with Lt. Edgar Babcock isn’t always smooth sailing. That said, for being eight books along, the other characters in the series are largely two-dimensional. They’re fun to read about but hard to connect to.
The strong story in Fiber & Brimstone kept me reading despite the book’s shortcomings, and readers of hobby mysteries will enjoy untangling the myriad suspects and plot strands. And while the whodunnit won’t be too hard to figure out for veteran sleuths, the why is a bit more challenging.