Staged To Death
Review: When interior designer Caprice De Luca goes to pick up her friend Roz Winslow for coffee before Roz and her husband Ted take off for a romantic weekend in New York City, they are shocked to discover Ted dead in his sword room, one of his prized daggers placed firmly in his back, in Staged To Death, the first mystery in this series by Karen Rose Smith.
Earlier that week Caprice had held an open house for the Winslows, who were trying to sell their suburban mansion. A castle was probably more descriptive, complete with two towers capped by cone-shaped roofs. Even the inside had an Old World feel to it, with faux-stone panels and brick veneers to make it appear more castle-like. There was even a sword room filled with antique weaponry. With Caprice's home decorating business slow, she had taken to applying her talents to staging homes that were having a hard time selling, and the Winslow place was definitely one of those. She had removed some of the massive fixtures and replaced the heavy drapes to give it a more spacious, modern yet distinctive feel. The open house was heavily attended, marred only by Caprice spotting Ted passionately kissing a woman in one of the bedrooms. Unsure at the time whether or not she should mention it to Roz, she had decided to do so over coffee that night. But with Ted murdered, she held back. Could Roz have found out about Ted and killed him? Caprice is reasonably sure Roz didn't and while police conduct their official investigation, she decides to do a little sleuthing on the side.
Staged To Death has all the requisite elements of a cozy mystery but they are put together in a by-the-numbers manner, with little to engage the reader or to generate much excitement in either the murder investigation or its outcome. For starters, at 350 pages the book is far, far too long. (Recipes and an excerpt from the second Caprice De Luca mystery follow the main text.) The home staging scenes are interesting and the whodunit aspect is handled well — it isn't at all obvious who killed Ted Winslow and why — but there is a sense that much of the narrative following the discovery of the body, especially involving Caprice's personal life and her extended family, is simply filler, biding time until Caprice can identify the killer in the final chapter. Suspects and motives and a couple of red herrings are introduced but not convincingly so. On balance, a pleasant, fast-reading mystery but not an altogether memorable one.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided an ARC of Staged To Death for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Staged To Death: Pennsylvania
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Staged To Death by Karen Rose Smith — A Caprice De Luca Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: December 2013
List Price: $7.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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