Tuesday night I participated in a mystery writer panel along with fellow authors Ann Parker (Silver Rush mysteries), Mark Coggins (August Riordan series) and Camille Minichino (Periodic Table mystery series) at the Castro Valley Library.
To the right are me and Ann, while below Ann and I listen in evident fascination to Mark. And below that you can see throngs (yes, that’s right! Throngs!) of audience members coming up after the talk to buy copies of our books. That’s Camille at the far end of the table, btw. All in all a very satisfying event!
Several days behind, but still determined to do my one review a week (or am I now a week behind?…never mind), here I am with my review of Margaret Grace’s new mystery, MURDER IN MINIATURE. For those of you not in the know, Margaret Grace is the pen name of Camille Minichino, well known for her popular Periodic Table mysteries featuring witty physicist Gloria Lamerino. I’ve been lucky to meet Camille/Margaret through Sisters in Crime and, like the other writers I’ve met recently, she’s as witty and fun in person as she is as a writer.
Murder in Miniature is the first entry in Margaret’s new Miniature Mystery series, featuring recently widowed Geraldine Porter, retired and now able to devote her time to her favorite craft, building miniatures. Gerry is juggling chairing the local Dollhouse and Miniature fair while babysitting her precocious granddaughter when a troubled friend and fellow miniaturist goes missing. Murder quickly follows and Gerry is drawn into the thick of things against her own better judgment, not to mention that of her nephew Skip, who just happens to be on the local police force.
And that’s all the plot you’re getting from me ’cause I don’t want any spoilers here!
Gerry is a likable heroine. Her grief at the loss of her husband, protectiveness towards her granddaughter, and desire to be a good friend, whether or not some of her friends deserve her loyalty, give her a core of believable vulnerability. The character of the granddaughter is precocious without being irritating; she just happens to be smarter than most kids her age and yet still easily bribable with pizza and ice cream. The cast of suspects gives the reader plenty of possible perps to choose from and you’re kept guessing through most of the book.
My favorite parts, though, were the loving and detailed description of the miniature construction, from how to make DVDs and books for a miniature library to using the little white ‘tables’ in delivery pizzas as the inspiration for an Italian restaurant miniature. Grace gives the reader an insight into the mind of a miniaturist and how every day items (‘found’ items) are seen for their potential and given new life. Absolutely fascinating stuff and guaranteed to make readers think twice before throwing anything away!