Thursday, December 12, 2013

MURDER AT THE PTA by Laura Alden

Publisher:  Berkley
Date published:   October 5, 2010
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina

2 Hearts

Divorced from her husband about a year Beth Kennedy has a pretty full plate to deal with.  Aside from two younger children she is the owner of a children’s book store that keeps her on the go.  Just when she thinks life might be settling down to a dull roar she’s “volunteered” as the PTA secretary.  Not one to shirk a responsibility, even one she doesn’t particularly want, Beth digs in.  She studies up on the issues, makes sure the minutes are prepared in a timely manner and graciously accepts those other duties as assigned that seem to go with volunteering.  The PTA, however, ends up in quite the uproar when non-too-popular school principal Agnes Mephisto announces an extension if going to be built on to the school.  Before anyone can react the town becomes aware of the fact that Agnes has not only received this marvellous, large, donation, or that an architect has been hired but that construction has already been begun.  On top of that a new blog shows up on the local internet and it’s a tell all of quite a number of town residents.  As if that isn’t enough, Agnes turns up dead…murdered.

When Beth is corralled by the PTA into contacting Agnes’ family to express their condolences Beth is handed yet another task when the deceased’s sister asks her to clean up her house.  When Beth heads over she, along with her friend Marina who is there to help, can’t help themselves and end up doing a little more than cleaning…they determine that maybe they need to see what they can find relating to Agnes’ murder.  Will they find the killer before the killer finds them?

I was drawn to the premise of Laura Alden’s MURDER AT THE PTA because the town reminded me a little of the one I grew up in.  Folks stepped up and pitched in, took on volunteer jobs and made the right things happen.  We even had a whole new school built while I was growing up—not all that different from that in the book.  I also liked the idea of the bookstore in town and while it was labelled a children’s book store, it seemed Beth carried quite a vast array of genres and titles—my kind of store!

The story started off pretty good and then seemed to head downhill.  I expected Beth to have children because, after all, the focus is on the PTA and you can’t be a parent in the PTA if you don’t have kids, right?  But the story bogged down several times with threads about the children.  Those portions didn’t move the story along and instead pulled me out of the mystery. 

Evan seemed to be thrown in because cozies these days seem to have to have a romantic interest.  The relationship—or rather their eating out on a regular basis, didn’t seem to have any purpose except there has to be a relationship.  There was also the requisite Christian-type religious scenes.

No one stuck out as a good possible suspect and I wasn’t sure why Beth felt she had to investigate.  There was the requisite line about letting the police do their work but she wasn’t really investigating Agnes’ death. 

And Agnes…well she started out as the usual cozy victim that no one was going to miss—but when her history was revealed her death was actually very sad.  I’m not sure what the author was thinking of or if maybe she started the book, put it down for a time and then went back to it without reviewing what she’d written early on.  I just wasn’t impressed.

That said, if you like cozies and in particular if you have school aged children, it’s a good bet for your reading enjoyment.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement this book.

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