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Murder in Miniature (A Miniature Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – February 5, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having lost her husband to cancer, good-natured Geraldine Gerry Porter, 58, endures being the chair of the Lincoln Point, Calif., dollhouse committee. Her prickly perfectionist friend, Linda Reed, makes tiny houses that are unassailably historically accurate, but Linda's delinquent adopted teenage son, Jason, and two troublesome ex-husbands have her real house out of order. When Linda disappears from the annual miniatures fair only to turn up in the middle of the night stranded and disheveled off a highway access road—the same site where the dead body of an unknown woman is subsequently found—Gerry, with the help of her visiting 10-year-old tomboy granddaughter Maddie, begin to second-guess Linda's odd behavior. They rely on the quirky expertise of Gerry's roll-with-the-punches bachelor nephew, Skip, a local cop who's thrilled to get his first homicide call. Further roiling Lincoln Point tempers are a recent robbery at Crane's Jewelry Store pointing to Jason's handiwork and the angry factions battling over an upcoming election hinging on proposed development. Gerry proves a resilient, enterprising detective and Maddie a delightful sidekick in this tightly honed mystery, where smalltown personalities get a gentle poke. (Feb.)
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Review

"Grace knows how to build a unique mystery...I'm looking forward to the next installment." -SUSAN WITTIG ALBERT, AUTHOR OF THE CHINA BAYLES MYSTERY SERIES
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Product Details

  • Series: A Miniature Mystery (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; First Edition edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425219801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425219805
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As CAMILLE MINICHINO I've published eight novels in the Periodic Table Mystery series and five in the Miniature Mystery series (writing as MARGARET GRACE). As Ada Madison, I've launched a new series: the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries. "The Square Root of Murder" was released in July 2011.

One of my favorite things is to chat with readers. I hope to connect with many of you.

BACKGROUND: I received my Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. I've had a long career in research, teaching, and writing. I'm currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and on the staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I'm also on the boards of the California Writers Club and NorCal Sisters in Crime, and a past president and member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Campbell Slan on February 8, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A delightful read with special appeal to hobbyists.

Full disclosure: I'm one of the mystery authors involved in the [...] We joined forces because we all write mysteries involving hobbies. (Pretty obvious, eh?) But...we've only met each other virtually, and I'd never read anything by Margaret Grace (Camille Minichino). So when I received the ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Murder in Miniature, I opened the book with excitement and trepidation. What if I didn't like her work?

Whew. Very quickly, my fears were allayed.

Murder in Miniature is a delightful read with special appeal to hobbyists. The protagonist, Geraldine Porter, is a complex woman, recovering from the loss of her husband, unsure sometimes how to do the "right thing," and devoted to her granddaughter and friends. She defines herself as "a pushover for difficult personalities," but Gerry is no victim. She's simply a woman who accepts imperfection--in her miniatures, in her life and in her friends.

Gerry's involvement as an amateur sleuth makes sense, which is always a challenge in a book of this ilk. The underlying complexities of Gerry's life round her out as a character, and provide realistic stumbling blocks to crime solving. Unlike many cozies, Gerry evolves over the course of the book, and we, as readers, relish seeing her review her life and come to new conclusions.

All in all, a most satisfying read. Here's the lagniappe: I love miniatures. The author gave me just enough about the hobby to make me eager to work on my own dollhouse and room boxes. Any book that not only entertains me but also helps me rediscover a lifelong passion is a winner! And that's exactly what Margaret Grace has here: A winning series.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Olson on February 11, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I didn't think I'd like this book by "Margaret Grace," but I loved her previous table of elements mysteries written by Camille Minichino, so I decided to give the book a try. I'm glad I did. She has created an interesting geographical setting and cast of characters. Not all are great, but the chemistry between the retired teacher heroine and her 11-year-old grand-daughter is real and affecting. The technical details on miniature-creation are interesting even to someone who has no intention of ever trying it. And, oh yes, it IS a mystery -- that keeps you guessing. I recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Baker - Carstairs Considers HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Geraldine "Gerry" Porter got talked into serving as the chair of the summer craft fair. Granted, she was going to be there anyway selling what she could from her many dollhouses and miniatures. She even took advantage of her position to place herself next to Linda Reed, a friend and follow miniaturist.

But the fair hasn't been open long when Linda disappears only to call Gerry in the middle of the night from a pay phone in the middle of nowhere. When Gerry picks her up, Linda refuses to answer any questions. But the questions get even bigger when the body of an unidentified woman is discovered in the same location. What is going on? How is Linda connected? Can Gerry clear her friend or will her digging just create more problems?

This isn't a bad series debut at all. The plot starts a little slowly, but it builds quite nicely until I was quite hooked. Gerry is an endearing main character. And I loved her sidekicks, especially her granddaughter Maddie and nephew Skip. The small town was also charming, and I couldn't help but smile at all the references to Lincoln the book managed to work in.

But the book does have a couple problems as well. The biggest is Linda and her family. We are supposed to care for them and root for them to be cleared of the crimes. However, they aren't at all likable. Furthermore, the book occasionally gives way to asides. I don't mind a few, especially if they are humorous, but a few times they were clumped together and irritated me.

This is one of those books that I would enjoy while reading but really didn't want to sit down and read when I wasn't. I think I would give this book 3.5 stars if I could. I'm sure hobby enthusiasts will enjoy it much more then I did.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By photondancer on March 11, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read Murder in Miniature a year ago and found it dull. Knowing that I sometimes change my mind upon a second reading I tried it again last week. Nope, it's still just as dull. There may be a murder mystery in there somewhere but you'd be hard-pressed to find it under all the gossip, exposition, trivia and repetition, repetition, repetition. I have to agree with Susan that maybe the author was paid by the word: why else would she tell us over and over again that Geraldine, the main character, lives in an Eichler house with an atrium? the book even includes a house layout diagram, despite the house being completely irrelevant to the plot! Similarly Geraldine carries on repeatedly about her guilt at taking her granddaughter with her when she's picking up a friend from an industrial estate after midnight, despite the girl sleeping through most of the drive and absolutely nothing bad happening. They drive out there, they pick up the friend, they drive home. Gosh, what a traumatic experience for a kid - good thing she doesn't live in downtown Baghdad.

The writing is flat and completely fails to build suspense. The author has to resort, a dozen times per chapter, to the artificial punch of using one or two line paragraphs, which becomes very irritating. Note to author: do not use first-person narrative unless the narrator has an engaging mind. Geraldine does not. As a substitute we are subjected to long descriptions of everything she does, the shops she visits, the town meeting she attends, every conversation she holds or overhears, right down to the ingredients of her meals and of course all the hobbyist filler that has so charmed the other reviewers. Most of this is just plain irrelevant, not even acting as red herrings or background.
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