Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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The Wedding Caper
by Janice Thompson

Reviewed by Carol Kurtz

"...a fun, feel good who-dun-it in a town where nothing is too scary or disturbing and everyone needs love and understanding."

$25,000 is missing from Clark County Savings and Loan where Annie Peterson’s husband Warren is a banker. Annie is a devoted wife, a menopausal woman, and a helpful mother of twin girls who are both engaged to be married. And not necessarily in that order.

The small town of Clarksborough, just outside of Philadelphia, has never seen a crime like this. Their biggest excitement is the Get Out to Vote rally coming up, catered by Judy Blevins, a struggling single mother of troubled teenagers. Could Judy’s son Jake really have stolen the money from the night deposit box? The electricity had strangely gone out just as Judy made the deposit. Was Judy in on the heist?

But the most disturbing thought nagging Annie, is that her seemingly dedicated husband has just presented her with $25,000 in cash to fund their daughters’ weddings. He offered no explanation as to where it came from. And she didn’t ask. Annie is the type of wife who doesn’t interject herself into the financial aspects of their life. She has always trusted Warren completely to take care of all that. But now she can’t help but wonder where that money came from. Has the pressure of the weddings and the furtive desires of their beloved daughters gotten to Warren? Could he have cracked and committed such a terrible crime? He certainly had opportunity. Annie plunges in, determined to vindicate her husband, while more and more evidence points in his direction.

Now an empty nester, Annie is entering menopause and has been feeling somewhat purposeless. She finds adventure at www.crimeinvestigators.com, and signs up to take their online course. Her online daily devotional flows nicely into the lessons she learns about crime sleuthing, as she stretches to seek God and the truth simultaneously. She and her mischievous dachshund, Sasha, secretly suspect everyone around them. No one is off the hook

Her fear that her husband could be a criminal is humorous, but also why she feels compelled to solve this crime. If only to vindicate him in her mind. Annie is like Erma Bombeck and Laura Holt all rolled into one suburban housewife. As Annie proclaims, “Now me, I avoid gossip like the plague. Always have. I mean, I’ll occasionally chat with Sheila about this little thing or that - but most of our conversations revolve around prayer requests for the needs of others - like Mary Lou Conner’s failed marriage or Betty Sue Anderson’s good-for-nothing son who can’t seem to stay out of the local jail.” We get the joke.

Annie is very much caught in a time warp of female helplessness, and she’s learning about her purpose in life and her potential as a woman. She continuously describes the few dollars she spent on the online course as “Warren’s money”, and she is repeatedly apologetic that she dared to spend it on such a frivolous thing.

The pace slows in the middle with her spiritual musing. Her dear friend Judy Blevins is dying of cancer, and Judy’s husband, who works with Warren at the bank is distraught and pulling away from his church and friends. Annie struggles to tend to her friend in her sickness, her daughters who are full of exciting projects Mom can do to help make their weddings wonderful, the crime she still hasn’t solved, and her domestic duties.

Annie learns to listen to God as well as her gut, as the culprit becomes clearer and clearer. She also learns that no one in Clarksborough is as bad as she originally sees them. They all have problems and need the love of God, which she learns to give them.

The dry humorous antics of Annie and her dog Sasha had me chuckling out loud, no small feat for me. Annie doesn’t take herself too seriously, although she does see her mission as one of divine purpose. The Wedding Caper is the first book of Barbour’s new line of cozy mysteries (and Book #1 in the Bridal Mayhem Mystery series). It’s a fun, feel good who-dun-it in a town where nothing is too scary or disturbing and everyone needs love and understanding.

Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.