Friday, April 29, 2016

Silence of the Lamps (A Caprice De Luca Mystery Book 5)

Author:  Karen Rose Smith
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback, Kindle
ISBN #:  9781617737725
Kensington Publishing
352 Pages
$7.99, $5.99
April 26, 2016
Five Stars

Caprice's house staging is interrupted by Drew Pierson, a caterer who opened Portable Edibles, a business in direct competition with her sister Nikki's Catered Capers.  Nikki turned down Drew as a possible partner and he seems determined to undermine and bury her.  However his successful launch of a deal for his blackberry barbecue sauce must have stirred up his enemies.  When Nikki visits the house where Drew lives with his grandmother to resolve differences, she and Caprice find him dead -- murdered with the base of a valuable Tiffany lamp.

Caprice discovers clues about Drew's sly business dealings -- from stealing recipes from another chef, to friends who hold grudges, to a sister who will now inherit half of her grandmother's estate since Drew is dead.  In the midst of her own romantic relationship upheaval, helping her uncle set up his pet sitting-business, assisting a friend care for a pregnant stray cat, Caprice follows the suspect trail, inadvertently putting herself in danger once more.

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Caprice De Luca is a home stager - she decorates homes with 'themes' in order to make them more attractive to potential buyers.  Her sister Nikki, is a chef who caters the open houses (among other events) with Caprice.  At one of these open houses Caprice and Nikki are surprised to see Drew Pierson, who at one time worked with Nikki and was almost her partner until she decided that they just weren't a 'good fit' for each other.  Since then, he has opened his own catering company, which is in direct competition with Nikki.  It is there that he informs her he's planning on putting her out of business.

Not long after they are at a wedding expo, there is an altercation between Drew and Nikki which is witnessed by others, and Caprice and Nikki find that Drew is serving the same dish as Nikki's, which is one of her own creations and passing it off as his; an altercation that is witnessed by others, all the while luring customers away from Nikki with his own creation of a chocolate walnut groom's cake.  This is just too much for Nikki, who later tells Caprice Drew's not only been stealing her dishes, he's also been stealing her clients, and she wants to confront him; so Caprice agrees to go along as moral support. 

When they arrive at the home Drew shares with his grandmother Rowena, Nikki enters first and it isn't a sight she wants to see...Drew is dead, lying in a pool of blood, with an upturned Tiffany floor lamp next to him.  She runs out, and Caprice quickly scans the scene and Drew for any signs of life before calling the police.  When it becomes clear to Caprice that Nikki is the main suspect, she knows she must investigate to find the real killer before Nikki is railroaded into a crime she didn't commit.  

Even though Caprice is worried about her sister, she also has some romantic worries of her own:  new to her relationship with Grant Weatherford, her brother's law partner, he tells her that his ex-wife is coming to town and he needs to spend some time with her because they've never had any closure.

When Caprice begins digging into Drew's past, she becomes aware of a very different man than what she or Nikki knows; one that isn't as well-liked as he appeared to be, and one that wasn't above using and manipulating people to get what he wants.  And the more she finds out, the closer it brings her to a killer...

I found this book not only to be a delightful read, but one that gives us an insight into Caprice and her life.  For not only do we have our intrepid home stager investigating yet another murder, we see other glimpses of her life as well: her innate kindness to others, as when she visits the bereaved grandmother; her caring in her friends and animals - offering her neighbor Dulcina the homeless cat she's recently rescued; her enduring friendships and love for her family; her determination to rescue animals and find them good homes - these are things that make Caprice a real person, someone I would like to know and spend time with.

Of all the books in this series, I think that Silence of the Lamps is my favorite to date.  We see not only the inner traits I've mentioned above, but also her weaknesses and her own uncertainty in her relationship with Grant, and her angst in trying to decide what to do to resolve the situation.  It makes her whole, and most likely one of the most believable characters I've come across in a long time.

In the end, when the true killer is revealed (for you and I know as readers that of course her sister Nikki wouldn't do such a deed), it comes as a surprise, but nevertheless a realistic one; and proof enough that while some people will do almost anything for money, there are still others who will stand up and do the right thing in the end.  Highly recommended.



More on Karen Rose Smith's books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/s/karen-rose-smith/                  

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