As my reading is going a little slowly I thought I’d share my opinion of an earlier Emilie Richard’s book: ‘Let There be Suspects’.
Aggie Sloan-Wilcox knows that as a minister’s wife, she can’t get involved in too many scandals. That’s why she’s trying to put that whole finding a naked body on the front porch thing behind her. As part of that effort, she’s hosting a Christmas open house for everyone in the congregation.
Things won’t be as easy for her as she had hoped, however. Her free spirited mother, Junie, has planned a family reunion without consulting Aggie. Everyone is scheduled to arrive in time for the party. Still, Aggie is delighted to see her sisters, Sid and Vel and figures Junie’s eccentricities won’t be too much of a problem. However, Junie shows up with a bit of a surprise, their foster sister Ginger.
Ginger has a way of making enemies wherever she goes. She manipulative and controlling while appearing sweet on the outside. Junie has never seen this, but Sid was Ginger’s victim one too many times during childhood, and their old rivalry leaps to life immediately, making the church’s new punch bowl a causality.
Things only get worse when Ginger is murdered on Christmas Eve and her body left at the town’s nativity scene. Sid doesn’t have an alibi, so naturally, she becomes the chief suspect. Aggie can’t stand by and let Sid take the fall, so she begins looking into Ginger’s past. This turns up more new suspects then Aggie could ever hope to eliminate. Can she sort through them to find the killer before Sid goes to jail?
I read this series out of sequence and it is a testament to Richards’s skill that it didn’t matter at all. As long as you know that Moonpie is the cat (and now you do) then it really doesn’t matter at all. I think Richards experience as a writer is showing in that somehow the repetition so many of the other cosy authors are guilty of isn’t apparent in her work and yet the reader gets all of the required information. What is particularly nice is that Richards has refrained from using an entire chapter to reintroduce the main characters.
‘Let There Be Suspects’ scores highly because Aggie Sloane and her family are not only very real characters, but they are also very likable. That’s quite an achievement. It is super that our heroine is married and the reader doesn’t have to tolerate the romance element. There is a problem though and that lies in extraneous information, I realise that Richards is trying to represent a well rounded protagonist but unfortunately, I believe, that this has been done at the cost of a really good whodunnit. As soon as Aggie’s sister mentioned her jumper (you’ll see what I mean) I saw the end coming a mile off and so will you. I accept that somehow this has (unfortunately) become part of the genre – but honestly! don’t these women realise that going somewhere deserted, at night (that is frequented by a suspect no less) all alone is a bit like walking backwards in a horror movie? At least our heroine Aggie worked it all out before she was caught by the baddie.
If you are a cosy fan (as I am) the paperback is well worth the price and I think you’ll enjoy this one. This is definitely a series I intend to follow.