Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shades of Wrath (A Caprice De Luca Mystery #6)

Author:  Karen Rose Smith
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781617737749
Kensington Publishing
352 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
November 29, 2016

Five Stars


Thanks to a wealthy patron, Kismet's women's shelter, Sunrise Tomorrow, has inherited a run-down mansion.  Now the shelter's director, Wendy Newcomb, wants Caprice's decorating expertise.  Caprice is happy to help, but when she glimpses a few heated encounters between Wendy and some locals, she fears that Wendy may be in need of protection herself.

When Wendy is found dead inside the old house, Caprice is compelled to poke around in her affairs -- and discovers she had her share of enemies.  Now, with countless clients, a TV gig that could make her a household name, and rumors of a marriage proposal on its way, Caprice must find time to design an investigation that will lure a crafty killer into the wide open -- before someone else winds up in a state of permanent disrepair...

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When Caprice De Luca is hired to decorate Sunrise Tomorrow, a women's shelter, she inadvertently walks in on a heated conversation between the shelter's director, Wendy Newcomb, and the president of the Chamber of Commerce.  Once she's been noticed, the conversation stops abruptly and he leaves, Wendy appearing flustered but nonetheless ready to get down to the business of showing Caprice the inherited mansion, and her ideas for decorating it into a warm, inviting place for women to find a temporary safe haven.

A few days later Caprice arrives for a scheduled meeting with Wendy and finds the area surrounded by police vehicles and crime tape.  Seeing her friend police detective Brett Carstead, she finds out that Wendy has been found dead, and it looks as if she might have been murdered.  Stunned, Caprice tells Brett everything she knows about Wendy and who might have wanted to do her harm, including the little she overheard.

While Brett warns her to stay out of the investigation (again), Wendy's co-worker and heir apparent to the directorship of Sunrise Tomorrow, Lizbeth Diviney, knowing of Caprice's past in unmasking murderers, asks for her help in finding Wendy's killer, afraid that plans to open the new facility could be held up the longer it takes.  Caprice, trying to be diplomatic, tells Lizbeth that she won't interfere in the investigation, but will try and find information useful to the police.

What Caprice does find out is that Wendy herself was the victim of domestic abuse, and it is the reason she was so involved in helping other women escape their situations.  She also finds that Wendy had created a far-reaching network to further this work, but also that she wasn't above doing things that might have been slightly illegal to help victims, thereby making enemies as well.  Evidently, something Wendy had discovered had gotten her killed; and if Caprice isn't very careful, finding out too much information can get her killed as well...

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and Caprice's quirkiness never fails to enchant.  She dresses in retro clothing, has a flair for setting the right mood in decor for each individual home, and rescues stray animals.  What's not to love?  Above all, she has a good heart, and that counts for a lot in most situations.

In between her hunting for information, we are also treated to her daily routines:  her relationship with Grant, her parents, her siblings, and the possibility of a couple of new relationships looming on the horizon.  Then there's a stint on television that brings her local notoriety and more clients than she can count.

While there are suspects aplenty, including Lizbeth, Sebastian (Wendy's significant other), or any number of unhappy ex-spouses, sifting through the information to find the truth is a chore.  And even when Caprice does glean information and pass it on to the police, there's no guarantee it will bring her closer to finding out the identity of Wendy's killer.

Ms. Smith never shies away from social issues, and indeed this book is no different as she digs deep into the realm of domestic abuse; she's done her research well.  With its subject, it is darker than many cozies.  This book was also a little difficult to read:  mainly because I recognized parts of my own past as a victim as well.  While I choose not to share any details about my past life, I will tell you that this; unfortunately, no matter what future life you create for yourself, it shapes you as a future being and leaves its mark deep within you.  (And if you think that was easy to write, you're wrong - it was one of the most difficult paragraphs I have ever written).

When we finally come to the end and the murderer is revealed, it comes as a surprise.  With leads pointing in so many different directions, it took time to figure it out, and that made the book all the more interesting; a very worthwhile read.

This is the sixth book in the series but can be read as a stand-alone.  We are given enough information on all the characters that one doesn't feel lost reading it or wonder what happened in the previous books (although you will probably want to read them after finishing this one).  As always, the writing is crisp, the characters fleshed out, the decor appealing, the food delicious, and the animals adorable.  I look forward to reading the next in the series.  Highly recommended.



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

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