Madness in Miniature



Lesa's Book Critiques

I don't know why I've missed the last couple Miniature books by Margaret Grace. Madness in Miniature, her latest one, reminded me that they're terrific mysteries featuring an astute amateur sleuth. And, it reminded me that I love the relationship between Gerry Porter and her eleven-year-old granddaughter, Maddie.

School's out for the summer, so Maddie can spend more time visiting her grandmother in Lincoln Point, California. They're carrying one of Gerry's dollhouses to a new store, SuperKrafts, when they come across an argument between the two store owners who sold out to the giant chain craft store. All along, Gerry has been a little uneasy about the store coming to town. What are they sacrificing, "the homey feel of our downtown or the disruption of the careers and livelihoods of our friends"? One of Gerry's friends, Bebe, seems to think she sold out so that a box store could take over the craft market in town. Catherine Duncan, the PR emissary for the store, hopes that Gerry can act as liaison as she has in recent months.

At first, a death at SuperKrafts is attributed to an earthquake, but it doesn't take long for Gerry's nephew Skip, a homicide detective, to tell her it was murder. It's one thing for him to question Catherine, a fellow member of the management staff, but when he invites Bebe to the police station, Gerry grows concerned. Would one of her friends kill to prevent the store from opening? Gerry uses all of her knowledge of the community, and Maddie's computer skills, to dig into the mystery.

Margaret Grace is skillful in bringing the clues together in this intriguing mystery. But, she's also skilled in writing about family relationships. Gerry finds herself juggling a murder investigation with her worries about an unhappy granddaughter who is on the outs with her best friend. And, Skip spends as much time consulting his aunt and filling her in as he does on the investigation itself. But, that's part of the joy of this series. The family relationships and love bring this series to life.

Madness in Miniature is another successful, enjoyable mystery in my favorite series by this prolific author.

Lesa Holstine

BookLoons Reviews

A giant store chain is launching their newest craft branch in a small village in California to mixed reviews. There are merchants who are upset because the cozy town image will be gone. That's what brings customers from far away because the main street looks quaint and inviting with all its diverse shops offering so much. And those customers bringing money to spend can't enjoy the big box stores or they wouldn't be coming to the more personalized shops.

Miniaturist Gerry Porter is of mixed emotions. She loves her village, the shops and the owners. Two of those shops have been closed because the big store needed the space they took up. That does not make for happy proprietors who no longer have a shop to run.

But the miniature goods she won't have to go out of the village to buy will be a boon to Gerry. She is rather caught in the middle. Bad feelings erupt between the new store and the villagers. However, no one expected the furor to go so far. A high-ranking employee of the store is found dead. Though it's pronounced an accident, Gerry cannot buy that theory.

She and her whiz-at-a-computer granddaughter Maddie delve into the dead man's background and the giant store he worked for.

Intriguing plot. I liked the way the miniature theme worked into the story. I had a friend who did some great stuff in miniature and it surprised me how many miniaturists there are. This is a good mystery with a lovable kid. The relationship with her grandmother is a delight.

Reviewed by: Mary Ann Smyth


Mysterious Reviews

Geraldine "Gerry" Porter and her 11-year-old granddaughter Maddie assist the Lincoln Point police with their investigation of a murder in SuperKrafts, a new large chain store specializing in crafts of all kinds opening within their community, in Madness in Miniature, the seventh mystery in this series by Margaret Grace.

The new store promises jobs but some of the existing small shop owners don't see it that way. Catherine Duncan, who had grown up in Lincoln Point but moved to New York with her family several years ago, is now a public relations manager with SuperKrafts. Her job is to make the store opening a smooth one. But it isn't. Just before the grand opening, a small earthquake shakes the ground. Damage is minimal, but instead a man is found dead on the floor, apparently the result of a large box of vases tumbling from above onto his head. However, it isn't just any man, but Craig Palmer, the CEO of SuperKrafts, and his head wound wasn't accidental. He wasn't well-liked by his colleagues and had received threats from people in Lincoln Point. Gerry's nephew Skip, a detective in the police department, begins an investigation with the help of Gerry and computer-savvy Maddie, who starts documenting links between the dead man and various suspects, and checking off who has alibis and who doesn't.

Madness in Miniature is a very enjoyable mystery, made better by the special dynamics of the multi-generational Porter family. Too, Gerry has an on-going relationship with a local widower, Harry, which is really quite sweet. The storyline is nicely constructed, with plenty of suspects having a reason, if not always the means, to kill Craig Palmer, and following along as Gerry and her family narrow down the field until just one remains.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Madness in Miniature. Acknowledgment: Perseverance Press provided a copy of Madness in Miniature for this review.

Superstores are taking over the world. Or so it seems to Gerry Porter. SuperKrafts has replaced local shops that have operated on the main street of Lincoln Point, California, for years. On the plus side, Gerry and her fellow crafters will now have a local source for supplies.

Spearheading the invasion is Catherine Duncan, SuperKrafts PR representative and a former student of Gerry’s. Catherine has done her best: forming a council of locals to consult on the store and negotiating perks for former store owners and residents to make the invasion more palatable. Unfortunately certain personal issues – a brief affair with her boss and the resumption of her relationship with her high school sweetheart – are going to cause her even more problems than dealing with the contentious, argumentative shop owners.

Since everyone comes knocking on Gerry’s door, sometimes in the middle of the night, it is no surprise when Catherine reveals to Gerry that she’s been receiving threatening notes. Gerry’s advice to take them to the police goes unheeded. Mistake.

Gerry’s nephew is homicide detective Eino (Skip) Gowen. That connection will come in handy for both of them when a SuperKrafts executive in murdered and first one and then another of Gerry’s friends or former students are suspected of the crime.

The best part of the “Miniature” series is the relationship between Gerry and her granddaughter, Maddie, who is eleven. Maddie is as obsessed as Gerry with solving crimes and her computer expertise comes in handy.

As befits a “traditional mystery”, Margaret Grace plays fair, doesn’t have any gratuitous blood and gore and fully develops her characters. With Maddie growing up it will be interesting to see where the story goes from here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (It would make a great family film.)

- Sally Powers