Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cloche And Dagger - Jenn McKinlay

Cloche And Dagger
A Hat Shop Mystery
Jenn McKinlay
Berkley Prime Crime

Scarlett Parker has been hiding in her apartment for the past few days; ever since a video of her went viral.  She had the misfortune to ‘crash’ a party thrown by her boyfriend.  Even more unfortunately, that boyfriend was throwing the party for his wife.  Cake-throwing was involved, and now anyone with internet access can see Scarlett’s worst life moment.  So, when her cousin, Vivian, calls from London and suggest a long-overdue visit, Scarlett jumps at the opportunity.

Arriving in London, Scarlett is dismayed when Vivian doesn’t meet her.  Instead, Harrison Wentworth, a man who has mixed memories of Scarlet from her many childhood visits, meets her.  Once she sees Mim’s Whims, her grandmother’s hat shop (now hers and Vivian’s) Scarlett wonders why she ever left.  The shop has been there for decades, and caters to the upper class and titled ladies.  When one of those ladies – a countess – is discovered murdered and wearing nothing but a custom-created hat, Scarlett’s problems get real in a hurry.  Apparently, the still-missing Vivian had a thing with the husband of the dead woman, and the authorities and gossip writers find it oh-so-convenient that she’s nowhere to be found. 
This is the first in a new series, and promises some light, frothy fun.  The London hat shop is a new and interesting venue, with plenty of customers and neighbors to provide fodder for further tales.  The author goes a little heavy on the English expressions at the outset, but that gets toned down fairly quickly.  Of course there’s the threat of an incipient romance with Harrison, although Scarlett’s mother astutely observes that a woman pushing thirty who’s never been single for more than a couple of weeks might benefit from a little solitude.  The mystery wraps up quickly, but very dramatically.  All in all, this is a solid introduction to a likeable cast of characters. 
Rating: 7
August 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25889-7 (paperback)


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