Thursday, August 27, 2009

Larceny And Lace - Annette Blair

Larceny And Lace
A Vintage Magic Mystery
Annette Blair
Berkley Prime Crime


For Maddy Cutler her hometown of Mystic, Connecticut, is the perfect place. A former fashion designer and life-long collector of vintage clothing, she’s about to open a shop called Vintage Magic. Of course, there are one or two little snags. Like the fact that the building, bought for taxes at the behest of its centenarian former owner, used to be a morgue. It’s been sitting empty for the past fifty years or so. Empty, except for Dante Underhill, the friendly and courteous ghost of a former client. Maddy has always been able to see ghosts, but recently she’s been learning a lot more about her witch-y heritage from her Aunt Fiona.

Aside from the usual contractors’ delays, there have been a series of break-ins at the building during the few weeks Maddy spent in New York, tying up the loose ends of her former life there. The police have investigated, but never find anyone. Arriving ahead of schedule, Maddy interrupts someone who was obviously trying to pry open the second-floor doors. Making matters just that much more awkward, she spots the current boyfriend of her best friend, Eve, handing around and looking decidedly suspicious.

Maddy planned to open the doors with her dad, Aunt Fiona, and Eve (and Dante, of course) in attendance. Before they can do that, a fire breaks out in the playhouse across the street. The fire is relatively small, but the group finds the owner dead in the lobby. The man would argue with a lamppost, so it seems there would be plenty of suspects. When they finally manage to open the sealed doors at Vintage Magic, they find morgue equipment and a set of body drawers. In one drawer is a quilt, made from various pieces of vintage clothing. Unfortunately, the quilt is wrapped around a set of vintage bones.

My main problem with the first installment (A VEILED DECEPTION) was that there were too many storylines crammed into one book. This time, while there’s still a whole lot going on, the story seems more polished and focused. The fire and the discovery of the bones are only the beginning of a series of events that play out in unexpected but interesting ways. Even Maddy’s version of swearing (‘scrap!’ or ‘how the Hèrmes’) is starting to grow on me. I’m also enjoying the addition of Chakra, the yellow kitten who acts as Maddy’s familiar. The pacing is very good and the fashion tidbits and quotes are great. This series is shaping up to be a lot of fun.

Rating: 6 ½
August 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22911-8 (paperback)


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