Diary of a Confessions Queen
Review: Amy Crosby's husband, who was last seen seven years ago, may be alive and well — or at least that's what a blackmailer asserts — in Diary of a Confessions Queen, a potential series debut by Kathy Carmichael.
Amy has a job writing short stories for "True Lies" magazine, a confessions magazine, but money is still tight and she's about to lose her home. Her husband, Dan, is presumed dead, and she's about to go to court to have it officially declared so she can collect on his life insurance and pay some bills. But someone has other plans. Amy receives a blackmail notice, saying she's committing insurance fraud, but if she pays $2000 the whereabouts of Dan will remain unknown. Believing the note to be a hoax, Amy ignores it … but then her home is broken into, and another note left. Torn between wanting Dan alive and back in her life, but hoping he's dead because how could he leave her for so many years without letting her know he's alive, Amy tries to get to the bottom of the blackmail scheme and learn the truth about Dan.
Diary of a Confessions Queen is a pleasant enough cozy, and there's really nothing significantly wrong with it, but it could have been so much more. Maybe the title sets the wrong expectation with potential readers. Chapters often have titillating subtitles promising scandalous details ("I was blackmailed by my husband's mistress", "I shot my neighbor for being late", "When love walked in, I walked out"), and the premise of an amateur sleuth who writes for a confessions magazine offers numerous possibilities of fun and excitement, but there's little follow-through here in this regard. There is some humor mixed with the mystery, but much of it falls flat, eliciting at best grins on the part of the reader.
It isn't clear if this is the first of a series or not, but if so, there is potential here. Amy Crosby is an appealing character, and her best friend Sue Ann is a delight. But the plots need to unfold with a more deft touch, better leveraging Amy's job and the situations in which she finds herself for more instances of broad humor to balance the lightweight mystery.
Acknowledgment: Medallion Press provided an ARC of Diary of a Confessions Queen for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Diary of a Confessions Queen: Kansas
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Diary of a Confessions Queen by Kathy Carmichael
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: February 2010
List Price: $12.95