Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Embellished to Death

Author:  Christina Freeburn
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.
Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

Faith Hunter is the owner of Scrap This, a scrapbooking shop.  She is working at a "scrapbook retreat" called Cropportunity for the weekend, accompanied by her boyfriend Steve, an attorney.  On the way there, she receives a phone call from Ted Roget, a detective who is interested in her, asking if she is alright.  The reason he wants to know is a car was found on the side of the road and has some of her personal information in it.  As if that isn't enough, when she arrives, she barely avoids getting hit by an out-of-control car, but another woman isn't so lucky, and is hit and dies.
By this time Faith is pretty sure is wasn't an accident.  Especially when she finds out that Ted's brother Bob, a private investigator, is also there looking for an identity thief.  Even though she is told to stay out of the investigation by the lead detective, Bell, she finds she is thrust right in the center of it when she is accosted by Morgan, who is not all that he appears to be, and he accuses her of committing previous murders and having someone else take the fall.
Okay, that's the gist of it.  Things get sticky pretty quick.  Steve is injured pushing her out of the way of the car, so he's pretty much MIA through most of the action.  Morgan is trying to get her to admit she committed previous murders and pinned it on someone else, and he's not above using physical force to do so.  Bob is there to find the identity thief, but finds more trouble than he wanted and is distracted by having to protect Faith from Morgan.  Morgan is a nasty human being, and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
The plot weaves and turns, and you're never sure exactly where it's going.  Are we looking for an identity thief?  Or are we looking for a murderer?  Or are they the same people?  These are the questions for Faith - and her innate desire to help people pulls her into the action.  Unfortunately, that same desire puts her in situations she should never be in.  Even when she knows there's probably danger ahead, she pushes on.  Naive or incautious, I can't say.  But there is very definitely a murderer in their midst, and it could be any one of the people attending the retreat.  The question is, how do you keep an eye on them all? 
She knows she has to tell Steve about her past - about how her husband Adam murdered someone and set her up to take the fall - but is putting it off.  Believe me, this is a big part of the plot.  Personally, I didn't think it was that big of a deal:  she got conned by her ex-husband, was cleared of the charges, and one would hope to move on with their life, but apparently she hasn't.  She's still fretting over what he will think of her.  My opinion:  What is she afraid of?  She's not guilty of anything, and she's not the first woman who has ever been conned by her husband.  (Maybe none have ever tried to set their wife up for murder, but women have been married to them without knowing.  I just didn't understand why she wouldn't talk to him about it.  If he loved her, he'd understand.
I would have given it five stars, but I didn't really care for the ending.  I'm not going to tell you anything about it, but it seems to ask more questions than it answers.  That doesn't mean it's not worth reading; it is.  The plot is tighter, the book is intriguing, and there is a lot of action so you won't be bored.

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