by Cynthia Chow
& Jenn McKinlay
This week we have a review the latest Hat Shop Mystery by Jenn Mckinlay, along with a fun pet related guest post by Jenn. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Buried to the Brim. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Buried to the Brim: A Hat Shop Mystery By Jenn McKinlay
Review by Cynthia Chow
Scarlett Parker may have been made infamous by a viral video depicting the furious destruction of her married boyfriend’s anniversary cake, but she is now gloriously happy and engaged to her Mr. Right. While she would be more than happy to bask in her joy while helping her cousin manage their Mim’s Whims hat shop in Notting Hill, the arrival of fiancé Harrison Wentworth’s aunt makes that impossible. More specifically, the hullabaloo is caused by Aunt Betty’s companion Freddy Darling Wentworth, a magnificent Pembroke Welsh corgi whose lineage can be traced to one of the Queen’s corgis. Freddy will be competing in the Pet Animal Welfare Society’s charity event, and Aunt Betty is determined that this year he will finally win and not be a three-year runner-up. Standing in their path is Richard Freestone and his champion English bulldog Muffin, and Aunt Betty believes that a Mim’s Whims custom hat is the perfect accessory to nudge Freddy to the top.
Scarlett’s cousin Vivian Tremont does her best to resist the adorable allure of the pup with a heart-shaped fluffy butt, but it doesn’t take long before she’s designing an assortment of canine-friendly bowlers, fedoras, and trilbies. Less amenable is Liza Stanhope, the director of the PAWS committee and who declares that a corgi will never take home the prize. This leads to a series of confrontations that result in Aunt Betty being banned from the competition, forcing Scarlett to step in as Freddy’s handler. While Scarlett is a novice at leading Freddy through agility tests and obedience demonstrations, she’s more than experienced at being enmeshed in murder investigations. Which is convenient as that’s just where she finds herself when Freddy leads her to Gerry Swendson, the sponsor of the event and the one whom Aunt Betty accused of poisoning Freddy with tainted dog food, dead under the dais. Now with an unfriendly Detective Inspector Bronson zeroing in on Aunt Betty as his prime suspect, it’s up to Scarlett to unravel this four-legged version of Game of Thrones and discover who was vicious enough to commit murder to have the Top Dog.
This sixth in the series is an irresistible blend of couture, canines, and killers. More than a dash of romantic intrigue is added by the manipulations of Scarlett’s friends, who are determined to overcome Vivian’s stubborn refusal to admit her feelings or open herself up to the possibility of a relationship. The prolific author of the Library Lover’s and Cupcake Bakery Mystery series delights in exploring the eccentricities and complexities of a professional dog competition, where the human owners are truly the ones with egos on the line and willing to do anything to win. The brilliant twist of this mystery is how canine psychology leads Scarlett to a solution, but not without threats coming from decidedly two-legged culprits. Humor, the companionships between humans and their fuzzy friends, and rom-com-level interactions deliver a thoroughly entertaining read full of rewarding moments and emotions.
By Jenn McKinlay
I love them. And in my life, I have had a constant parade of furry companions that have made my existence infinitely better for their presence, despite the fact that they come with a lot of chewed up shoes, eyeglasses, and in one case, an entire couch! The fact is that no one, except for my mom, has ever loved me as much as my dogs. I’ve had some cats that have come close but they’ve never managed the devotion dogs exhibit because…cats.
When it was time to revisit the Hat Shop series, I knew I wanted to give my heroine, Scarlett, a fuzzy buddy like Mel has Captain Jack and Peanut in the Cupcake Bakery series and Mel has her familiar Heathcliff in the Library lover’s series. Because the series is set in London, England, there was no question that the dog needed to be a corgi. I mean if they’re good enough for the Queen of England, they’re good enough for me! I’ve never had a corgi myself, but I’ve dog-sat a few of them and, of course, immediately fell in love with their comical inquisitive nature. How can a person not love a dog whose behind is in the shape of a heart?
Setting the plot of the book Buried to the Brim against the backdrop of a dog show meant that I could indulge my love of all critters that bark and wag. I even worked in, as competitors in the dog show, every dog in my family, past and present. It was great fun to write about Lucy, Coco, Rylie, Kirbie, and Sachewa, some of whom have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, and revisit their specific and special personalities. I honestly can’t imagine a life without dogs, cats, birds, fish, hamsters, or the odd beta fish. So, if you’re a dog lover and would enjoy a mystery chock full of dogs, I encourage you to give Buried to the Brim, a read.
For more info, here’s a brief description: New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay’s beloved Hat Shop duo Scarlett Parker and Vivian Tremont return to don their sleuthing caps and solve a murder that’s death in show. 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.
To enter to win a copy of Buried to the Brim, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “brim,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 29, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted when the contest is over. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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