At the Drop of a Hat Author: Jenn McKinlay Series: A Hat Shop Mystery 3 Publisher: Berkley, February 3, 2015 Format: Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages List Price: $7.99 (print) ISBN: 9780425258910 (print) Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Library Lover’s Mysteries and Death of a Mad Hatter comes a tale of hat shop owners who put a cap on crime.
MURDER CAN BE SO OLD HAT
Cousins Scarlett Parker and Vivian Tremont’s fashionable London hat shop, Mim’s Whims, is visited by a new customer bearing an old hat box. Ariana Jackson is getting married and wants to restore her mother’s bridal hat and veil for the occasion. The elegant item was made by Scarlett and Vivian’s grandmother over thirty years ago, so Viv is delighted to take the job.
When Scarlett goes to Ariana’s office to consult about the restoration cost, she finds her outside, standing over her boss’s dead body. Though Ariana claims to know nothing about his demise, the investigation unveils a motive for murder. Now, with the bride-to-be in custody and the wedding on hold, Scarlett and Viv must find the real killer before Ariana’s future is boxed up for good.
At the Drop of the Hat is the third installment in Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop Mystery Series. The series follows cousins Scarlett Parker and Vivian Tremont, who have teamed up to run their late grandmother’s hat shop, Mim’s Whims, in London. Viv, born and raised around the shop, is the creative power, and Scarlett, who spent her summer vacations with her grandmother and cousin, and has recently moved to London from Florida, is the people person of the operation. In this book, the pair are thrilled to be given the opportunity to restore a wedding hat for a blushing bride that their grandmother had originally designed. Their joy is dampened when the bride, Ariana Jackson, is found standing over the dead body of her boss. Ariana is suspect number one in the nasty attorney’s murder and the milliners are determined to prove her innocence at all costs.
Scarlett has evolved nicely in the three books of this series. She came onto the scene with a bruised psyche from a terrible and public break-up, but has begun to rally and is becoming more confident with her new life. Viv is actually becoming more of an enigma. She has the stereotypical British reserve that is causing some friction between her and her half American cousin and is holding a secret close to her heart. Fiona, who is Viv’s young apprentice, adds humor and color to the story with her fresh and untainted outlook on life. The shop crew is rounded out by Harrison, a childhood friend of the cousins who is now a partner in the business with them, handling all the finances of the shop. Harrison is openly pursuing a romantic relationship with Scarlett, much to her dismay. Scarlett is clearly attracted to Harrison or Harry as she playfully calls him, but is still smarting from the events of her recent breakup and is trying very hard to ignore that attraction and his attempts to woo her. The four from the shop are joined again by Andre and Nick, who are the cousin’s neighbors, and relatively new friends to the group. Andre had the unfortunate luck to be with Scarlett in the first two novels when she discovered two murder victims and is understandably relived that he was spared being with her when she discovers the third. Added to the regular characters of the series is stunningly handsome Alistair, a friend of Harrison’s who has fallen head-over-heels for Viv, and various other newcomers who are all candidates for the murderer.
The mystery is well thought out and has a wonderful and unexpected twist that helps it to stand out from other cozy mysteries. The main characters are all becoming more real as the series progresses, with little details added to each installment that adds to their back stories and gives them more depth. To me, the relationship dynamics developing around the shop quartet makes the books especially enjoyable. I love how the author only gives the readers the tiniest bits to go on and then drops another crumb further into the story to give more light to the motivations of the characters. I can’t wait for the next novel so I can find out, not only where the cousins are heading in their love lives, but also what kind of debacle Scarlett will land them in if she stumbles up yet another murder victim.
You may see a Guest Blog by Jenn McKinlay here and enter to win a copy of At the Drop of A Hat. The Giveaway is included here again for your convenience. Please note that if you've already entered you will not be able to enter again at this post.
What: One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of At the Drop of a Hat by Jenn McKinley from the publisher. US ONLY
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February 12, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*