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Crime & Clutter by Cyndy Salzmann

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Review of Crime & Clutter

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The Advocate

Crime & Clutter
by Cyndy Salzmann

Reviewed by Lori Fox

"Reading this book is like discovering that your best friend is actually an international spy."

Meet the Friday Afternoon Club, a group of moms dedicated to God, their families, each other, and chocolate.

Liz, a woman who considers a kitchen fire to be a great excuse not to cook dinner. Mary Alice, a woman who regards a kitchen fire as a great opportunity to try various recipes for cleaning the mess and removing smells. Marina, Cop Extraordinaire. She starts the kitchen fire (not on purpose, of course). And Lucy, Jessie, and Kelly, who alternately dole out advice, and offer support.

But when the club finds out that Mary Alice has been storing the property of her recently deceased father (who had also deserted his family to live in his van on a hippie commune) the girls are ready to go. Despite Mary Alice’s many objections, Liz, Marina, Lucy, Jessie, and Kelly help her work through the baggage. Both inside, and out.

Amid flyers for rallies, ingenious storage cupboards, and a really cool table that turns into a bed, the girls find baby pictures and letters all addressed to Maya. Apparently the whereabouts of her father wasn’t the only secret Mary Alice was keeping.

Reading this book is like discovering that your best friend is actually an international spy. Everything may seem old and familiar, but it makes you wonder--just what are your friends up to?

The women in this story are so hilariously real, I feel almost as if I know them. I especially identified with Liz, she of blissful domestic avoidance. The impression I have is of a woman who, if given the opportunity, would cheerfully procrastinate on everything except her whims. Particularly if curiosity is involved.

This book was so hard to put down! There are no bodies, missing jewels, or other typical mystery trappings, but it had lots of character. Mary Alice never knew her father, and suddenly she received all of his worldly belongings. For a year she kept them locked up in a rented storage unit, and never even took a peek.

Every chapter starts off with recipes; everything from Josh’s Cheeseburger Pie to Millet Casserole and Lavender Lemonade (I actually tried Josh’s Cheeseburger Pie--it’s good! And it reheats even better.). Most chapters have news bulletins from the sixties, and take place in two eras. One from Liz’s point of view, and the other in the sixties in Mary Alice’s father’s. It’s all woven together beautifully, and really showcases that era for those of us who missed it.

This was a really well written and engaging book, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any woman from twenty to eighty.

Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.