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Murder by Mushroom by Virginia Smith

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The Advocate

Murder by Mushroom
by Virginia Smith

Reviewed by Carol Kurtz

"A satisfying read from start to finish."

Christians aren’t perfect, and the members of Heritage Community Church are no exception. Jackie has been a member for six months, and she’s excited about showcasing her culinary skills when she brings her best casserole to the pot luck supper. But when her dish is used to poison someone, she takes an unplanned vacation and spends the next week trying to vindicate herself and find the killer. So much for impressing people.

As she surveys the suspects which include just about everyone, we see into the secret lives of many parishioners. Some are leading double lives; others are rather unsavory. But rather than becoming disillusioned that so many of God’s people are hiding some sort of sin, we see the love of God through the pastor’s wife, Margaret. She loves these less than perfect people. She believes the best of her congregation, and she is worried about what Jackie is stirring up. Jackie and Margaret have become friends, and she’s a good influence on Jackie, who tends to be socially clumsy and less than graceful. Yet, even Margaret is on Jackie’s list of suspects.

Jackie meets Dennis, the gorgeous police officer she can’t seem to be near without feeling a tingle. She butts heads with him and the entire police force in her search for the killer. And, much to their consternation, she won’t be called off, even when she’s in danger.

The biggest lesson Jackie learns is that gossip is a cancer in the body of Christ. She sees the sometimes irreparable damage it can render at her own doing. She’s tried to use the church gossip to help her solve the crime, but this leads her down many dead ends, leaving wounded people in her wake. She keeps “what-ifing” into elaborate scenarios, and she ends up misjudging many. She finds that even tips from well meaning people can destroy lives. We see that Christians are sometimes as guilty of gossip as anyone else.

Of course she’s going to fall in love with Dennis after all their conflict. And of course she’s going to help solve the crime. But the journey there is enjoyable, and the pages turn easily. Rather than keeping us in suspense until the last few pages, we find out with Jackie who the killer is, and then we get to watch the good guys catch the perp. The suspense is more in wondering if at the last minute it will NOT be the one on whom we’re closing in.

A satisfying read from start to finish, this one’s got a message we could all stand to hear.

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.