It’s hard to decide what factor ultimately led to me purchasing a paperback version of Laura Alden’s Murder at the PTA (2010): the fact that the lead character owns a children’s bookshop, that she’s just become an officer in the PTA, that there’s a blog involved, or that it’s set just outside Madison, Wisconsin, where I lived for 5 years while attending grad school. Any one of those would appeal, but I guess it’s that last one that put it over the top.
Beth Kennedy is a recently divorced mother of two whose friend convinces her to become the new Parent-Teacher Association secretary (heaven save me) just before Agnes, the highly unpopular principal of Tarver Elementary, is murdered, having attempted to ram through a plan for an addition to the school without anyone else’s approval because it’s to be funded by a private donation. Beth gets involved because when she calls the principal’s sister with condolences, Agnes’s sister Gloria asks her to help by clearing out the house, and because her young children, who attend the school, are showing signs of anxiety.
The blog, WisconSINs, is a useful and often funny addition to the story (example: the headline “Too Many Suspects to Count” referring to Agnes’s murderer). After a time Beth and its author begin to use the blog to ferret out suspects, which ultimately puts them in danger, too. As for being set in Rynwood, Wisconsin, well, there are a couple of choice remarks about Madison, but this is not really an insider’s view, so that was a bit disappointing.
If you have (or had) kids in school, are into blogging, or just need a lite mystery to carry around in your bag, I recommend this one. I’d classify it as good, clean fun.
Buy the book: