GILT BY ASSOCIATION – Karen Rose Smith
A Caprice De Luca Mystery , Book 3
Present Day Kismet, Pennsylvania
It's February and Valentine's Day is coming, and what better theme could home-stager Caprice De Luca choose for the open house for her current client, Louise Downing, than Hearts and Flowers? Caprice and her caterer sister, Nikki, and friends are also busy planning the town's Give from the Heart Day food and clothing drive, as well as the Valentine's Day dance. Suddenly, it's the day of the open house, and Caprice discovers Louise dead on the floor of her greenhouse.
Believe it or not, this is the third murder to occur within Caprice's orbit. A certain police detective resents the fact that she solved the first two murders when those close to her were the chief suspects. He forbids her to meddle this time, but Louise was Caprice's mother's best friend. How can she refuse to investigate when her mother pleads with her to do so? It's hard to know where to start; she doesn't think it's Louise's husband, but the more she looks into things the more questions she has. Everyone seems to have liked Louise, but she soon learns that her life before her arrival in Kismet is a complete blank.
Caprice keeps digging against the pleading of many who worry about her, all the while keeping on with her staging business and her volunteer works. For pleasure and relaxation, she has her rescued animals…her cat Sophia, and Lady, her cocker spaniel pup. Caprice had found Lady's mother about to give birth. She and her brother's law partner, Grant Weatherford, actually delivered the litter, and Grant adopted a male he named Patches. Caprice and Grant (on whom she once had an adolescent crush) attend pup training classes together. She's not sure where the relationship is going. She has been let down in the past, and doesn't trust easily.
Kismet and its townsfolk have great appeal, as does the large De Luca family. Caprice is independent, stubborn, loyal, talented, and very likable. As we read, we'll follow her around, learn of her taste for retro clothes, and meet those she loves…and a couple of gentlemen whom she might grow to love if she lets herself. We'll wish we could have a taste of the food whipped up in the course of the days. And, of course, we will learn who murdered Louise, but only when Caprice does.
Ms. Smith excels at bringing her characters—including Sophia, Lady, and Patches—to life and in vividly painting the scene. She can also tantalize with a gradually unfolding mystery. The books in the series are closely tied together but can be read as singles if necessary. The mystery proceeds with suspense and emotion, but also with fun and, perhaps, a hint of romance?