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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Aloha! A Review of PHOTO, SNAP, SHOT by Cindy Chow

Note: Cindy is the first reviewer to notice that Kiki, too, is prejudiced. By the end of Photo, Snap, Shot, she must question her own assumptions about other people

I admit that I completely lack the Martha Stewart gene. My one attempt at a DIY
design project resulted in six - that's six - pieces of my furniture becoming
"'marbelized" in paint. I come by it honestly, though, as ten years of my
childhood photographs reside in shoeboxes at my parents' home, all in their
original Kodak envelopes.

So it takes a lot for me to continue to follow a "crafting" mystery series, as
there's pretty much no chance that I will ever follow the crafting hints and
tips. However, Joanna Campbell Slan's Kiki Lowenstein's Scrap-n-Craft
mysteries is a series that does have the humor, realistic characters, and
complex plots that compel me to read each engaging new entry. The third in this
series, Photo, Snap, Shot(Midnight Ink) continues this excellence and never

Thanks to financial support from her late husband's mother, Kiki Lowenstein's
daughter Anya attends the elitist prep school Charles and Anne Lindbergh Academy
(CALA). It's the last place one would expect violence to occur, so when Anya
discovers the body of her teacher there Kiki goes into full panic mode. The
school is eager to cover up any hint of impropriety or scandal, so it's no huge
surprise that the woman's African American boyfriend, the basketball coach, is
immediately implicated and arrested.

After being warned repeatedly from interfering in previous murders, Kiki's more
than a little surprised when Detective Chad Detweiler actually asks for her help
in clearing the coach, who happened to have been a Little Brother Detweiller
mentored and believes is a convenient scapegoat.

This places Kiki in an emotionally precarious position, as Detweiler is the
married man she dreams about while two perfectly acceptable other men, one of
whom is the man she SHOULD want to love, stand at the sideline. As they say
though, the heart wants what the heart wants. However, any rash actions she may
contemplate are definitely curtailed by her watchful mother-in-law and friends.

As Kiki ventures in the rarefied world of the CALA elite, she discovers that the
headmaster's wife and four CALA mothers all had past ties that unite them in
hiding past secrets. The murdered teacher herself also had a cloudy past
despite her recent path to redemption.

What surprised me so much in this novel was how the chip on Kiki's shoulder that
resulted from her insecurities and feelings as an outsider prejudiced her
against all of the mother's of CALA. Slowly, as Kiki questions and begins to
know more about each woman she understands that each woman is far more complex
than she realized in her initial snap judgments. The author fleshes out each
woman realistically and empathetically in a way that enables the reader to
understand the sacrifices they've made and how they've become who they are..

Rather tortuously, but realistically, Slan concludes Photo Snap Shot with a
cliffhanger that leaves some questions unanswered and definitely has the reader
wanting more. The next Kiki Lowenstein mystery can't come soon enough. I love
Kiki, a character who has grown stronger in will and character as the series has
progressed while never losing her sense of humor.


Cindy Chow
Kaneohe Public Library

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