Tag Archives: Camille Minichino

Manhattan in Miniature by Margaret Grace

I’ve already talked about when I first discovered the miniature mystery books written by Camille Minichino, under the pen name of Margaret Grace. Last year I actually had the
opportunity to meet Camille at a miniature show in San Jose. I liked her immediately and not just because she’s a real published author. One look at Camille’s website will show you all she’s accomplished in life. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

A few months ago Camille offered me a copy of her latest miniature mystery novel, Manhattan in Miniature*. Normally I don’t like to read ahead in a series but I couldn’t resist so I took Camille up on the offer. I’m glad I did.  Even though it sounded like a lot has gone on in Gerry’s life (spoiler alert: she’s engaged!) I was able to pick right up and enjoy a fun mystery set in The Big Apple at Christmas time.

The book starts, as they all do, with a witty play on miniatures. Gerry is refrigerator shopping and can’t decide which one she wants. In the end she decides to “buy them all” causing a newbie to think “wait…what?” We regulars get the little joke of course. Sure enough in the next paragraphs it is revealed that Gerry is at SuperKrafts stocking up on supplies for her hobby of building miniature room boxes.

Right there at SuperKrafts the premise of the book is set. We meet the store manager, Bebe (well I did at least, based on the banter between the characters Bebe has been introduced in previous books that I haven’t read yet) who invites Gerry to attend a big craft show in New York City. SuperKrafts will pay for the trip and guess what? Even Maddie (Gerry’s granddaughter) can go! Cozy excitement for the plotline has been set and the fact that its weeks before Christmas makes it even better.

But wait, you’re asking, what about the murder? I’ll admit that the thought of Gerry and Maddie solving a murder mystery in New York City scared me a little. Luckily the murder storyline was more annoying than dangerous. Gerry calls her friend Cynthia with the good news of her visit and learns that Cynthia’s 90 year old Aunt Elsie has died in her Manhattan apartment. Cynthia is convinced her aunt was murdered and she wants Gerry to solve the crime.

By the way, when I say the murder storyline in this book was annoying I mean that in a good way. I think Camille wanted the reader to be annoyed by Cynthia’s character and let me tell you, she nailed it! I consider a book to be very well written if it can invoke emotion in the reader. One page into the scene where we meet Cynthia “in person” and I was ready to slug her.

As per usual there is plenty for Maddie to do as well. She provides her super sleuth computer skills to help her grandmother and also helps the hotel security department with their own little mystery. Maddie also acts as the conduit for the one bit of tension and suspense we do get at the end of the story.

In addition to the criminally fun storylines, the book also makes for a good New York City travel guide. Gerry and Henry’s engagement is also noted throughout the book, although Henry spends a lot time out of the picture having scheduled a trip to Hawaii while Gerry is in New York. Now that I’ve broken my rule of reading ahead in the series I’m anxious to get back on schedule and see exactly how this engagement and find out first hand how great a guy he is.

If you are looking for a fun, cozy mystery with the excitement of New York City go out and get yourself a copy of Miniature in Manhattan. I give it a Classic Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating classic

*Disclosure:  This review is my own honest opinion.

Mourning in Miniature by Margaret Grace

I was first introduced to the Miniature Mystery series of books a few years ago at a time when I least expected it: I was visiting the local craft shop. I was chatting to the store owner about how I was looking for supplies to build furnishing for my dollhouse. Next thing I know she was telling me about a local writer, Camille Minichino, who built miniatures and also wrote mystery books under the pen name, Margaret Grace. She gave me a copy of the first book, Murder in Miniature and I was on my way to becoming a fan.

Later that night I cracked open a copy of the book and entered the world of Lincoln Point, a fictitious Bay Area town that, based on the description, sounds an awful lot like Castro Valley except it’s located on the Peninsula (i.e.: Silicon Valley) near Palo Alto.

Other than the fact that she gets herself involved in horrid murder investigations, the main character Geraldine Porter (“Gerry”) is right up my alley. She is not only a retired school teacher and grandmother to 10 year old Maddie (I have a sweet spot for old ladies, seeing as how I’m practically one myself) but she is a miniature enthusiast. Each book in the series features a specific miniature project Gerry or one of her friends is working on that gets tied into the story.

In the most recent book I read, Mourning in Miniature, the project is a miniatureMourning in Miniature replication of the hallway lockers in the local high school where Gerry first taught. It was created by a friend and member of the local craft group, Rosie Norman in honor of her upcoming 30 year reunion.

As I write this I realize I have a lot in common with Rosie Norman. First of all, I too am looking forward to my 30 year high school reunion this year, although I haven’t constructed a miniature model of my locker – yet! In addition to this, like Rosie I am a bit on the frumpy side, love miniatures and also love to read. I also like to hang out with old ladies.

Luckily this is where the similarities end because by chapter 4 Rosie is the main suspect in the investigation of the murder of the high school football star. Since the football star from my high school is a great guy (his signature phrase is: “Love ya! Nade Cali Style!) I think he’s pretty safe from an unlikely demise at our reunion. Also, if I was the suspect in a murder investigation, I don’t think I’d have a great friend like Geraldine Porter to try to clear my name. You’ll read have to read the book to find out whether or not Rosie really did it.

I pride myself in being able to pin the killer before the main character does in some of the mystery books I read but this is one that had me stumped till the end. In addition to the mystery, we also get a new character that may or may not present a little romance for Gerry. Seeing as how she is a widow with a precocious granddaughter and an active crafts group, I’m sure Gerry could use a little romance. I’m looking forward to see where it goes in the next book, Monster in Miniature.

Overall, I think Mourning in Miniature was a great read. I give it a classic Mrs. B.

Mrs. B rating classic