At the Drop of a Hat
Hat Shop Mystery #3
By Jenn McKinlay
Author’s Website: http://www.jennmckinlay.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
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. (Goodreads)
Ariana brings her mother’s wedding hat to milliners Scarlett and Vivian in hopes that they will be able to repair it in time for Ariana’s own wedding. The deadline is short so, when the ladies do not hear back from Ariana, Scarlett decides to go to her office to make sure the hat repairs may proceed. Scarlett is surprised to find Ariana standing over her boss’s body on the office’s patio. Anthony Russo was a womanizer and gambler, with a penchant for excessive alcohol and prescription drug use, who was known to bilk his law clients. These behaviors provide a great deal of motivation to kill him. Unfortunately, clues point to Ariana, and she soon finds herself behind bars. Scarlett and Vivian, with the reluctant help if their business partner Harrison, investigate to clear their new friend’s name.
I really like this series about two cousins and their London hat shop. Scarlett, who grew up in America but spent her summers in London, is entertaining as she tries to fit in with her English cousin and friends. Having experienced a very public breakup that has made her a bit infamous, she has sworn off dating for at least a year. Her resolve is constantly tested by her business partner (and childhood crush) Harrison. The tension between the two is palpable and much better than the love triangle that has become de rigueur in cozies, but it has the potential to be too drawn out. For now, I enjoy the give and take and flirting between the two as they are a nice contrast to each other. What I do not understand is why Vivian is so closed mouth about her own personal life. I can only hope it will be revealed in the next book in the series. The supporting characters manage to be stereotypes without becoming caricatures, and I like spending time with them.
The cousins’ dogged interest in clearing Ariana’s name, even though they are mere acquaintances, left me scratching my head for a while. Harrison even questions their motivations, and I found the wish for Ariana to wear their hat a little weak. I do realize that there would be no story without the cousins’ determination. The mystery itself was captivating, with plenty of red herrings to keep the reader guessing. The resolution was clever and made perfect sense in the end.
I genuinely enjoyed At the Drop of a Hat and look forward to the next book. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy all things English and appreciate a strong protagonist.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*