Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs

Scorched EggsReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Scorched Eggs opens with a bang-literally. An explosion rocks the County Services Building killing Hannah Venable. While the explosion was first thought to be caused by a gas leak or some other accident, it was soon found to be caused by an accelerant and obviously intentionally set. Hannah was killed, but was she the intended victim or was the County Agent who was out of the building at the time? Was there possibly even another reason for the building to be destroyed? Even though the police are on the case, the Cackleberry Club members are soon snooping around as well.

There is a cute side plot thread that involves an owlet that has fallen from its nest. Being a birder, I cringed at Suzanne’s actions, but this is fiction and for people concerned about animal life, the owlet survives just fine. The thread did allow for an interesting plot twist towards the end of the book.

I am a fan of Laura Childs’ scrapbooking and tea shop mystery series, but this is the first of the Cackleberry books that I have read. I liked the three main characters all middle aged women who have found a way to make their interests into a business (cooking, books and needlework) and the supporting characters are all typical of a small Midwestern town. That said, I have a couple of points to quibble about. One has to do with “Kindred” and the other with the basic set up of the Cackleberry Club.

It bothered me a little that “Kindred” was not better identified other than being in the Midwest. With the scrapbooking books, Childs gives readers a mini vacation to New Orleans with every book and with the tea shop series it’s Charleston. In both cases, the setting takes on a major role in the book-almost as a character. I realize that both New Orleans and Charleston are real places and that Kindred is a fictional town. But Kindred is portrayed as such a vanilla swatch of generic life in a generic town somewhere in the middle of the country that it has no character at all. I had no mental picture of the place I was visiting.

The second thing that bothered me just a bit, is that the three women who make up the Cackleberry Club all have their shops in one establishment. Maybe why this is the arrangement is made clear in an earlier book, but I wondered why. Wouldn’t the town seem a little more like a whole community if it had more than one shop? If details like this bother you as a reader, it might be better to start at the beginning of the series.

Putting those two relatively minor points aside, Scorched Eggs was an entertaining way to spend a few hours. The characters are quite likable and behaved as amateur detectives might-making some mistakes along the way. Readers who want “by the book” detective work probably shouldn’t be reading mysteries with shop owners and librarians as the protagonists. The book includes several yummy sounding recipes including one for “Scorched Eggs” which I realized I have had but called “Scotched Eggs” instead. While I haven’t read the previous books in this series, I probably will look for future books.

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