Dressed to Confess
Costume Shop Mystery, Book #3
By Diane Vallere
Author website: http://www.dianevallere.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt
Costume shop owner Margo Tamblyn faces a deadly conspiracy when a small-town festival turns into big-time trouble.
It’s no secret around Proper City, Nevada, that the Sagebrush Festival, the town s annual family-friendly event, is the place to be. This year’s theme of board games has everything from Conspiracy to Clue. Margo Tamblyn’s costume shop, Disguise DeLimit, has been tasked with providing costumes for the festival headliner, the Domino Divas, but the night of the performance, one fallen Domino threatens to bring down the whole show. Head dancer Ronnie Cass is found in her dressing room, unmasked, unprepared, and very, very dead.
As the police investigate, Margo learns that Don Digby, her father’s best friend, is the prime suspect, tied to the victim by an unsolved robbery connected to Proper City’s past. As conspiracies abound and theories are debunked, Margo seeks to unmask the real killer, before her dad’s buddy winds up in a costume made with prison stripes.
I love this series “Costume Shop Mystery”. I really did not know if it would be able to sustain the excellence the first installment had to it. Well it has. Author Diane Vallere has taken an odd premise, a town that strives on costumes and parties, and turned it into a truly entertaining cozy series. I wondered what could she possible do with the protagonist running a costume shop. I mean what uses are there for a costume other than Halloween season. Well, Proper City, Nevada has several uses. Festivals, proms, parties, you name it. The best part, none of it seems contrived. It all seems normal and feasible. Diane Vallere’s talents as a writer really transport the reader to a world were wearing a tennis outfit to go about your daily tasks seems acceptable, needing a costume for the prom is the only way to go, and conspiracy theorists are the back bone of the community.
In Dressed to Confess, Proper City is getting ready for their annual Sagebrush Festival. Everyone is getting the town ready for people from all over to come and hopefully spend money, lots of money. The theme is board games and Margo Tamblyn’s friend/surrogate mother Ebony is in charge of getting things up and running. Of course Margo is helping out. The big act is none other than the Domino Divas, a group that was flying high 50 years ago until they broke up. In fighting does not bode well for a perfect performance and Margo has been sent to lend a hand with the cat fighting. One member, Ronnie Cass is late as usual and then the rehearsal ends with face slapping. Later on when Ronnie does not show up for another rehearsal, Margo is sent to find her. And find her she does, dead in her trailer. Was it one of the ladies upset over the lack of skills, upset over Ronnie’s attitude, or did it have to do with why they broke up in the first place? Could it be something else altogether with, well Margo may just have to once again stick her nose into the murder.
In amongst all the swirling rumors is the possibility that Ronnie’s death may have something to do with the infamous bank robbery 50 years ago with the Proper gold brick was stolen. Right after which, the Divas broke up and Ronnie left town. Also at that time, Ronnie and Don (Margo’s father’s friend and fellow conspiracy believer) were an item. Don even asked her to marry him. Now things are looking more like Don may have had an axe to grind and evidence is definitely pointing his direction. People even think he may have had a hand in the robbery and are digging up his yard. Margo cannot let this go on. She knows in her heart that Don did not murder Ronnie. Why then are things showing up that actually could prove he is the killer?
I adore the characters in all of the books in the “Costume Shop Mystery” series. Margo is not only an intelligent protagonist, but she is fun, kind, loves her family(blood and otherwise), she is flawed, funny and quirky. I would definitely be best friends with her. I love Ebony – sassy, smart, hardworking and the woman that helped Jerry raise Margo when her mother died. Her best friend Bobbie is wonderful and also flawed. Her teen worker is always ready to lend a hand and do what needs to be done in the shop and elsewhere. This core group is so fabulous. (Including Margo’s sweet kitty). They are funny, intelligent, helpful, hardworking and I love them.
Author Diane Vallere has done what I thought would be close to impossible. She has kept this quirky cozy thoroughly enjoyable and believable. Dressed to Confess is easily a one sitting read. I could not put it down. The layers of mystery are dressed up in a way that is intriguing and interesting. The story pulled me in and held on to the very end. Yes somethings were a bit easier to figure out, or at least I thought. I love the twists and turns both in the present and in the past. The setting is fabulous and the writer is able to put the reader directly into the midst of the fun. If you have not read any of this fantastic series, you can read this as a standalone, but don’t stop there. Read the others. You will not regret it. Margo is one of my favorite main characters. If you enjoy entertaining and creative cozies you will love this one. Now my only problem is waiting for the next in this series. Oh and if you like a little romance in your cozy, there is a handsome man Tak in Margo’s life. How will they progress is another thing I will have to wait to find out.