by Cynthia Chow
& Jenn McKinlay
This week we have a review & giveaway of Jenn McKinlay’s latest Hat Shop mystery Copy Cap Murder, along with a fun guest post from Jenn. At the end of this post are details on how to win a copy of Copy Cap Murder, and a link to purchase it where a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore.
Copy Cap Murder: A Hat Shop Mystery By Jenn McKinlay
Review by Cynthia Chow
It’s November in Notting Hill, and native Floridian Scarlett Parker is feeling homesick. Thanksgiving is not exactly a popular holiday in Great Britain, but her friends and cousin Vivian Tremont attempt to fill the void with the much more English Guy Fawkes night. Invited by Harrison Wentworth to attend his employer’s ostentatious party, Scarlett is impressed by a scene that seems ripped right out of Downton Abbey. At least until the moment she’s mauled by one of Harrison’s intoxicated coworkers. Harrison’s intervention would have been impressively chivalrous, if only the lout Winthrop Dasavoy’s body wasn’t immediately discovered moments before in the Guy Fawkes’ bonfire.
Not too surprisingly, both the police and Harrison’s coworkers place him at the top of their suspect list. This couldn’t come at a worse time for Scarlett. Despite her one-year moratorium on dating due to an internet-sensation debacle, she is finally admitting her true feelings towards Harrison. Determined to discover the truth and clear Harrison, it’s not long before Scarlett learns that other than his father’s incredible wealth, there was very little to like about Win. Scarlett’s not about to lose Harrison just at the moment she’s decided that she needs him, so despite his edict that she remain uninvolved, she will question his mentor’s drug-addled wife, the more-than-motherly company half-owner, and Harrison’s ex-fiancé.
When it comes to the novels by Jenn McKinlay, I’m constantly torn between just which series is my favorite. As it turns out, it always happens to be whichever book I’m currently reading. Scarlett displays McKinlay’s gift with humor and quick-witted dialogue, and every secondary character is fully-formed and a continual delight. Scarlett may have only spent eight months living in London running her grandmother’s hat shop Mim’s Whims, but the loving descriptions of Portobello Road will quickly have readers similarly falling in love with her adopted home. The sharp writing and smart plotting are outstanding, and the surprising reveal and even more suspenseful chase will have readers at the edge of their seats. This stellar mystery sets a high bar for mysteries of the New Year.
By Jenn McKinlay
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.
One of my favorite parts about writing the London hat shop mysteries is the relationship between the two cousins, Vivian Tremont and Scarlett Parker, who co-own the little hat shop that their grandmother Mim left to them when she died. Because they spent so much time together growing up, Viv and Scarlett are close like sisters, and yet, because they also spent a lot of time apart and on different continents, there is a fairly wide chasm between them that isn’t just cultural differences, but personality ones as well.
In Copy Cap Murder, the two cousins are working through the fallout after Scarlett discovered a very big secret that Viv has been keeping from her. Their relationship is strained as they try to navigate Viv’s desire for privacy with Scarlett’s empathetic inquisitiveness. In all honesty, I am with Scarlett on this one. I am lousy at leaving people alone or allowing them their privacy. I really believe there is no problem that can’t be solved by being talked about to death, preferably with an endless supply of Ben and Jerry’s pint sized ice creams and cupcakes, but that’s just me.
Usually, my mystery books have a romantic subplot that is secondary to the mystery but this series has always forced me to stretch a little more with its complexity. For example, it has a foreign setting, featuring a profession I know nothing about, and it’s my only series written in first person. So naturally, the relationship between the protagonists would have to be a bit more complicated, too.
Does Scarlett forgive Viv for secret keeping? Does Viv finally tell all? Is their relationship changed forever? Sorry, no spoilers here! You’ll just have to read the book to find out how the cousins manage this new wrinkle in their life together.
Seriously, I hope you enjoy reading Copy Cap Murder, as much as I enjoyed writing it! Cheers and Happy New Year, Jenn
To enter to win a copy of Copy Cap Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cap,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 23, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
You can use this link to order this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore:
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.