4 star

Copy Cap Murder

A Hat Shop Mystery #4

By Jenn McKinlay


Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

 Synopsis:  Copy Cap Murder

For Scarlett Parker, part of the fun of living in London is celebrating the British holidays, and she’s excited to share her first Bonfire Night with her cousin Vivian Tremont. Invited to a posh party by their friend Harrison Wentworth, Scarlett and Viv decide to promote their hat shop, Mim’s Whims, by donning a few of their more outrageous creations. The hats prove to be quite the conversation starters as the girls mix and mingle with the guests—never suspecting that one of them is a killer.

It’s a cold, clear night, perfect for the British tradition of tossing a straw stuffed effigy of Guy Fawkes, traitor to the crown, onto the bonfire. But instead of a straw man, they realize in the heat of the moment that the would-be Guy Fawkes is actually Harrison’s office rival and he’s been murdered. Before the smoke has cleared, Harrison is the Metropolitan police’s prime suspect, and Scarlett and Vivian must find the real homicidal hothead before their dear friend’s life goes up in flames. (Goodreads)


Jenn McKinlay is one of my favorite authors.  Copy Cap Murder, the fourth book in the highly entertaining Hat Shop Mystery series, is the best installment yet and flat out fun to read.

Though homesick, American Scarlett Parker is settling into her new life in London with her cousin Vivian as proprietor of their grandmother’s millinery shop.  She is excited to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day at her friend and business manager Harrison’s employer’s bash.  Apparently, even the most posh parties have their unruly guests.  When Winthrop Dashavoy, who is Harrison’s childhood and work rival, has too much to drink and accosts Scarlett during the festivities, Harrison quickly steps in to defend her honor.  The bonfire comes to an abrupt halt after Win’s body is found in place of the Guy Fawkes effigy.  Because of Harrison and Win’s very public display, Harrison quickly finds himself at the top of the suspect list.  It does not take long for Scarlett to learn that not many people thought highly of Win, and there are plenty of suspects with good reasons to want Win dead.  Scarlett knows she is on the right path to find the killer when she finds herself in danger.

Scarlett is eight months into her self-imposed year long dating ban, and she is finding it harder and harder to resist her attraction to Harrison.  Though friends since childhood, now there is definitely palpable chemistry between the two.  This abstinence makes for a sweet almost romance, but I will be glad when the year is over.  I look forward to seeing how their relationship changes and develops in the next book.  I so appreciate the lack of love triangle in this series.

McKinlay’s writing is superb, easy and witty, with just enough tension and adventure to compel the reader to keep reading. She has the ability to perfectly describe the wonderful London setting, immersing the reader completely.  Copy Cap Murder is character driven, and the players are varied and well developed, yet they continue to grow with each book.  Everyone should be lucky enough to experience the camaraderie that Scarlet and her friends have.  Scarlett is immensely likable and intelligent.  She and Viv make a Lucy and Ethel type investigating team.  They sort of bumble along, in a good way, asking questions they have no business asking.  There is nothing subtle about their sleuthing.

The mystery itself is solid.  As I mentioned earlier, there are a handful of suspects, each unique with his/her different motivations.  There were plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until right before Scarlett figured it all out.  Even so, there was still a final development that I did not see coming.  Clever and unexpected.

Copy Cap Murder gets my highest recommendation.  I think any mystery reader would enjoy Scarlett’s antics, and it can be read as a standalone.  But, trust me, you are going to read the whole series if you have not already.