As Cropped to Death by Christina Freeburn opens, Faith Hunter stands at her family’s scrapbooking shop and watches as fellow employee Marilyn crops her husband’s face out of all of her photos. The cheater, Michael, is having a baby with his girlfriend. But then that night, Marilyn says that Michael denied the baby is his and wants to pursue counseling. In horror, Faith and her two grandmothers, Shirley and Hope, try to talk Marilyn out of such a plan, but Marilyn stays resolute. At least, she does until the next day, when, walking with Faith to the store’s booth at the local art fair, Marilyn sees Michael walking with his very visibly pregnant girlfriend, Annette. With shouts of “I’ll kill him!”, Marilyn has just sealed her arrest when Annette is found kneeling over Michael’s stabbed body.
Upon her arrest, Marilyn gives Faith a serious glare for having told, although very reluctantly, about Marilyn’s statement. Soon, Faith finds herself ordered by Marilyn to clear the friend, using skills Marilyn decides Faith gained while working as a clerk for JAG in the military. Feeling guilty for admitting Faith made the threat against Michael, Faith agrees to do her own investigation, leading to conflict with everyone around her.
This book was enjoyable, with a creative setting. I liked learning about scrapbooking, but the book seemed to assume that we readers knew more about the craft than I actually do. For example, the police confiscate all the scissors in the shop, but Faith points out that Marilyn never uses scissors but instead uses croppers. What are croppers? The plot has interesting twists and turns as we see Faith get even more involved in the case and making enemies of everyone around her.
The characters in this book created interest, especially the detective in the case, Ted Roget, who has a really round character. We get to know him and care about him. Freeburn does an especially good job of developing Faith’s character, as we get just enough glimpses of her painful past to keep us listening and drawn to the story. This makes us understand her and her motivations with more compassion. The book contains a love triangle between Faith and her biker/ prosecutor neighbor, Steve Davis, but I never got a real sense of Steve, and until the end, when Faith makes a mention for the second time that he is a hot biker, I completely forgot about that fact and pictures him differently, when a mental picture even arose.
Tara Ochs narrates the audiobook edition of this book. She does her part to make this book more energetic and enjoyable. I had fun listening to this book, and Ochs added to that pleasure.
I had a good time with Cropped to Death, but it wasn’t my favorite book. Some characters, like Faith, were well-developed, while others, like Steve and Faith’s grandmothers, fell pretty flat. The plot had strong points, but it got tiresome seeing Faith build cases against everyone around her. I give the book four stars.
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