Monday, December 2, 2013

"Staged to Death"

After writing over eighty published romances, Karen Rose Smith is now writing mysteries, too.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Staged to Death, the first book in her Caprice De Luca home-stager mystery series, and reported the following:
I was surprised at how well page 69 captures the essence of Staged to Death. Both of Caprice De Luca's rescued "pets" introduce the page. In the sentences—
...he (Dylan) scampered inside as if he knew Roz needed him. Caprice suspected Sophia was curled on the office chair, waiting for her owner's nightly check of emails.
--the reader learns how Caprice thinks of animals. Dylan, named after the folk singer Bob Dylan, is a furry little stray who seems to be intuitive. It's obvious Caprice believes animals can sense what their master needs. She also knows her pets well enough to realize they live by schedules. Sophia, a long-haired calico named after Sophia Loren, expects Caprice to check email on her home office computer before she turns in. Yep, Caprice is an animal lover who understands their behavior.

On page 69 the reader also can see that Caprice loves to cook.
Along with that (a packet of ground beef), she picked up endive, a pack of grated carrots, and a bag of shredded cabbage.
With the mention of these ingredients, the reader can wonder what Caprice is going to create in her kitchen, which is retro in design by the way. The concoction will turn out to be minestrone and the recipe will be included in Staged to Death. Food means "love" to the De Lucas. Caprice, along with her stay-at-home younger sister Bella, and her caterer older sister Nikki, learned to cook at their Nana Celia's elbow as well as in their mom's kitchen. They all contribute dishes to the monthly De Luca dinners. Their brother Vince doesn't cook—he brings the wine. The De Lucas are a close-knit family who squabble but who band together in any crisis.

We also learn another reason Caprice likes to cook in the line—"As she set everything on the counter, she ran over the murder scene in her mind." Caprice thinks while she cooks, not only solving family dilemmas but sorting clues and putting the murder puzzle together, too.

At the end of page 69, my reader knows a tad about the murder.
The glass case where Ted had kept his most valuable collectibles had been standing open. Did that mean the murderer had robbery on his mind? From what she could recall, the case hadn't been emptied.
Apparently Caprice had been at the murder scene where she'd, at least, glimpsed the open curio cabinet. A home-stager, Caprice had been staging Ted's castle-like mansion with a Camelot theme. The reader can deduce that Roz, who was mentioned earlier on the page and who needs Dylan's comfort, is somehow connected to the murder victim, Ted.

I believe page 69 encapsulates the themes in Staged to Death that I hope my readers will enjoy most—pets, home-staging, family...and solving a murder mystery.
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Read--Coffee with a Canine: Karen Rose Smith & Hope and Riley.

--Marshal Zeringue