Buried to the Brim
Hat Shop Mystery #6
By Jenn McKinlay
Brought to you by OBS Review Daniele
London’s most refined canines and their humans are gearing up for the Pets and Wellness Society’s annual dog show–and Betty Wentworth, favorite aunt to Scarlett’s fiancé Harrison and proud owner of corgi front-runner Freddy, knows that this could be their year with the right edge. Never one to turn away a corgi in need, Scarlett convinces her milliner cousin, Vivian, to design matching hats for dream team Betty and Freddy as they compete for Best in Show.
It’s a tail wagging good time until the dog-food sponsor of the event is found dead and Betty is the prime suspect. Vivian and Scarlett agree to enter the competition in Betty’s place and help Harrison catch the real killer before Betty is collared for a crime she didn’t commit. (Goodreads)
I was excited when I heard that a new Hat Shop Mystery was in the works. I have always enjoyed Jenn McKinlay’s cozy mystery series, and Buried to the Brim is pure delight. Full confession here, I am quite the anglophile and an absolute freak about corgis so Buried to the Brim is ideal reading for me. That aside, the mystery is solid and the characters series readers have grown to love are all back…and there are CORGIS!
Scarlett and Viv are busy, as always, with their hat shop, but they agree to take on a special order for Harrison’s Aunt Betty – matching hats for Betty and her adorable corgi Freddy. Freddy has come in second place three years in a row at the PAWS dog show, and Betty wants something to make them stand out. After Betty has a very public argument with Gerry, the show’s sponsor, her entry paperwork goes “missing” and Scarlett steps in to be Freddy’s handler for the competition. When Freddy finds Gerry’s body during the agility round, Betty becomes the prime suspect, and Scarlett puts on her sleuthing cap.
McKinlay does an excellent job of making the setting feel small-town cozy even though the story takes place in London. The characters are endearing and memorable. Scarlett is as lovable as ever and Harrison ever indulgent of Scarlett. Viv is a bit annoying in her obtuse treatment of Alistair, but VIv’s assistant Fee and Alistair handle the situation with humor and grace. Characters central to the mystery surrounding Gerry’s death are not nearly as pleasant, with the exception of Betty, but they do make wonderful murder suspects. Of course, Freddy and the other dog competitors steal the show.
The mystery provides a good puzzle, but it is a little easy to figure out. This posed no problem for me since I enjoyed every minute with Scarlett as she gathered clues. My only quibble is the ease with which Scarlett stepped into Betty’s role as Freddy’s handler. Even though it is emphasized that she is out of her element, she does a remarkably good job, making light of all of the time and work that goes into showing dogs. Again, this was minor.
Buried to the Brim is lighthearted, cozy fun, and I hope the Hat Shop Mystery series is back for good.