Crime and Clutter: A Friday Afternoon Club Mystery
The second installment of Salzmans inspirational cozies (Dying to Decorate) finds the Friday Afternoon Club, a group of funny middle-aged women who love to cook, eat, and chat, helping Mary Alice clean out an old Volkswagen minibus that belonged to her mysterious father. The story veers back and forth between the womens present, and Mary Alices parents hippie past. The Friday gangs Christian faith sustains them as they gradually discover the difficult truth about Mary Alices dad, who abandoned her when she was a baby; Mary Alice must discover whether she can find it in her heart to forgive him. The plot is thin, and Mary Alices extreme shame about her father, which prompts her to do things like drop glass pitchers when his minibus is mentioned, seems over the top. The portrait of the commune in which Mary Alices parents lived is also a bit of a caricature (characters with names like Willow use the slang-term bread for money, quote the Beatles, and, in the name of love and harmony, want to deny medical care to pregnant women). But the likeable narrator, Elizabeth, will hold readers attention. Discussion questions and the recipes scattered throughout make this lighthearted mystery a probable pick of Christian book groups.