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Murder at the PTA by Laura Alden

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Cover art: Murder at the PTA Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: Murder at the PTA - 1st in the Mystery series
Author: Laura Alden
Publisher: Obsidian
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-23109-3
Release Date: October 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery
Year/Setting: Present day, Rynwood WI
Overall Rating: 4.25
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: Minimal
Laura's Website/Blog: www.lauraalden.com


Beth Kennedy is up to her eyeballs in things to do. As a recently divorced mother of two and owner of a children’s bookstore, she’s just trying to stay afloat. So when she’s approached by her best friend, Marina, to be the Secretary for the PTA, Beth knows the best answer is no. She even says no—forcefully, but Marina is a master at arm-twisting and manages to get Beth to agree. At her first meeting as secretary, the unpopular principal drops a bombshell of an announcement that throws the entire community into a frenzy. And when the principal turns up dead, the heat is on everyone involved with the PTA meetings. Add to the mix a blog that is casting suspicions on the citizens of Rynwood and you’ve got a heck of a start to a volunteer job. Beth knows she has to find the killer before he decides to make another example out of someone…maybe even her.

What an exciting start to this new series by Laura Alden. As a card carrying PTA member, I know how hostile and tense some of those meetings can be. But when you throw in a murder, it really gets interesting. Beth and Marina are the Abbott and Costello of crime fighting. They keep coming up with plausible suspects, but can’t find the killer. And some of their sleuthing is as comedic—and as confusing—as the “Who’s on first?” routine.

I really loved Beth and her tendencies to be a neurotic mess. But I really loved how Marina brought the splashes of color into drab situations. While Beth is truly the main character and star of the book, Marina is such a strong secondary character that she’s almost a second main character. Marina is a lot like me and so I related to her flair for the dramatic and her colorful way of dressing.

Investigating the death of a woman who wasn’t really liked is a lot harder than you think. Unfortunately, the list of those who are not a suspect is almost non-existent. Everyone hated her, which gives everyone a motive. It takes a lot of legwork and a little bit of luck to find out who can be taken off the suspect list. When a death threat makes Beth’s search all the more urgent, it becomes apparent that it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again. At that point, I was on the edge of my seat until the exciting conclusion of the story.

Not sure how you can top the murder of the principal, but I’m looking forward to the next book in the series to see what happens next.

Robyn

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