Fresh Meat: Designed to Death by Christina Freeburn

Designed to Death, a Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery by Christina FreeburnDesigned to Death by Christina Freeburn is the second cozy mystery in the funny Faith Hunter Scrap This series set in Eden, West Virginia (available September 10, 2013).

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical scrapbooker.  But if there is, Faith Hunter would not be who I would imagine. She used to be in the Army, and has a secret past (so secret that Book 2 in the series does not yet reveal the whole story). She moved back to West Virginia to start fresh and work for her two grandmothers at their scrapbooking store Scrap This.  Since she was raised by her two grandmothers, she feels safe and secure back at home with them.  Well, as safe as anyone can feel with a murderer running loose.

The murder that takes place revolves around the most recently appointed Life Artist Diva, an honor given by the scrapbooking magazine Making Legacies to the person who submits the winning crop (meaning photos, not produce) layout.  The Life Artist Diva of the moment is Belinda Watson, and Faith has planned a signing and crop class to honor Belinda and bring in business for the store. Belinda’s cousin, Darlene, shows up claiming the work submitted to win the contest was actually stolen from her, and a brawl ensues. Let’s just say, not all the glitter in this story made it out unharmed.

Women paused and focused on the brawl. Apparently, they just realized the great gossip potential of a good catfight. Who wanted safety when the best scandal to hit the town in months was being displayed right in front of their very eyes? A few moved forward, clutching their cell phones and holding them out at arm’s length.

Wrapping my arms around Darlene’s waist, I tugged. She reached back with one hand and clawed at my face.

“It’s mine! She stole it!” Darlene lashed out with her legs. One hand tightened on Belinda’s handmade t-shirt. “It’s mine!”

“Let go of my daughter!” Hazel squeezed the trigger of the glue gun. Hot liquid glue dribbled from the nozzle and splattered on Darlene’s hand.

Darlene snarled and hissed in pain but kept hold of Belinda. I tightened my grip on the raging scrapbooker and pulled.

A cloud of blue, yellow and green dust attacked our eyes. Hazel wielded the glue gun in one hand and a plastic jar of glitter in the other.

Was she trying to brand us?

Darlene twisted and turned her hips, killer heels jabbed into my legs. I hung on for Belinda’s dear life.

Rip. I cringed. Underneath us, paper crinkled. Profits destroyed. I wanted to plead for help but was afraid my grandmother Cheryl would jump into the mix. I just needed to restrain Darlene for a little longer. Grandma Hope was probably on the phone right now arranging for either Steve or Ted, the detective who I tried to get along with for the sake of staying on his good side, to come as my back up.

As the specks of color continued to rain down on us, Darlene twisted her head and started blowing in Hazel’s direction while continuing to kick at me.

“My eyes!” Hazel screeched.

The color bombardment stopped. The container clattered to the floor. Though, unfortunately for me, Darlene persisted in attacking me with her heels.

The author is able to weave in humor (as evidenced above) but also suspense, and even a little bit of romance. Faith’s secret past includes a bad marriage to a guy who tried to pin a murder on her. So her choice in men hasn’t been that great so far. She’s really trying to take it slow and figure out where she wants to be in life, but she also has two guys who are interested in her and who want to take it to the next level.

Because of her previous bad choices, she isn’t sure which she wants. Does she move forward with Steve, an extremely sexy and kind prosecutor, or does she give in to advances made by Ted, the handsome homicide detective?  As much as Faith wants to be independent, she’s drawn to these two men, but feels that Steve in particular, might be really good for her:

My closed hand rested on the muscular — and naked — chest of Steve Davis. An anime-style angel decorated the upper half of his left forearm. Something coiled inside of my stomach and blocked my vocal cords. On its own accord, my hand opened. The warmth of his body slowly worked its way through me. All I could do was stand and stare. I’m sure my expression matched the wide-eyed, disbelief playing itself on Steve’s face.

Steve stood in front me bare-footed, bare-chested, and wearing tight jeans. His hair was mussed. A protective and angry expression replaced the shocked look. He wrapped an arm around my waist and drew me inside.

“What’s wrong?” One strong arm cradled me to him; the other hand stroked my hair. His warmth and care wrapped around me. I leaned into his embrace. Savoring and falling into the moment. My eyes drifted closed. Why had I been fighting this for so long? This felt right. I sighed.

If you’re a series lover like me, you’ll be happy to know that is the second in the Scrap This series, and a third is due in 2014.  And, if you become a Christina Freeburn fan, she also writes an inspirational romantic suspense series.


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Kerry Hammond has been an avid mystery reader ever since she discovered Nancy Drew at the age of 8. She enjoys all types of stories, from thrillers to cozies to historical mysteries.

Read all posts by Kerry Hammond for Criminal Element.


  1. Tina Hobbs-Bowser

    I would love to read this book as the setting is in West Virginia my hometown.

  2. RebeccaL

    That fight scene you described is hysterical.

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