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Avg. Rating: 3
The problem with so many cozies these days is that authors try to be innovative in the jobs they give their main characters, and they end up giving us characters whose involvement in murder makes no sense.
The book is best summed up by a line from the character of Steve, talking to the main character, Erin: "You were acting like a member of the family instead of their designer."
Erin is hired to declutter a house. In less than 12 hours, she's the homeowner's confidante, rushing to her aid at all hours, sticking her nose into family business that has nothing to do with her. She puts her livelihood on the line, as well as Steve's, without a second thought, and then defends herself when there really is no defense. The fact that Steve would even want to partner up with someone who has no concern for him and his business was completely unbelievable.
Also, the Gilbert and Sullivan thing has already been done by Selma Eichler -- that made it doubly annoying to me.
Colorado Interior decorator Erin Gilbert enjoys walking through a house that she is seeing for the first time and redesigning each room in her head. So when she first observes the outside home of Helen Walker, Erin is euphoric as the Crestview bungalow is a designer's delight. Euphoric as this seems, it is also a nice easy job though she knows she must show proper respect to the grieving owner. Then she steps inside; to her horror she concludes the cluttered home needs weapons of mass destruction as Helen and her recently deceased sister kept anything and everything. The surviving sibling refuses to toss out what is classic junk clutter.
Still Helen tries to organize, mess and pitch what is obviously worthless in terms of money or sentiment. The problem is Helen insists everything has sentimental value. Helen's neighbor Rachel and Erin's two friends Teddy and Kay support the surviving sister' frustrating Erin who may dump her so-called pals if they don't mind their business. However, these intrusions are irritants; the fourth invader causes colossal issues as that unknown visitor leaves behind murdered bodies amidst the clutter.
The fourth Domestic Bliss mystery (see DEATH BY INFERIOR DESIGN and MANOR OF DEATH) is a charming cozy especially when Erin is cleaning the house or furthering her relationaship rivalry with competitor Steve Sullivan. However, that is also the weakness of the story line as the homicides come across as just additional clutter to clean up when the heroine gets around to it. Still Leslie Caine provides a fun domestic tale starring a harassed heroine struggling with saving a house on the verge of being KILLED BY CLUTTER, something this reviewer can relate to.
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