Evening Bags and Executions by Dorothy Howell: Review/Giveaway

Jul 27, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of Evening Bags and Executions at the end of this post.

Life is great for Haley Randolph. Sure, she’s about to hit twenty-five, that over-the-hill cusp on the way to thirty that she’s totally not concerned about, and yes, she just broke up with the most devastingly handsome, rich and loving boyfriend, Ty Cameron. She did just lose the perfect job as a corporate event planner that she held for five minutes, with the result being that she is still working for eight dollars an hour as a part-time sales clerk at the Holt Department Store owned by her ex-boyfriend’s family. No, she’s on her way up earning her bachelor’s degree four classes at a time through an online classes, even if that means that she hasn’t had time for the purse parties she hosts with her best friend, Marcie Hanover, or visit with her fabulous friends.

No, Hayley’s on her way up with a new (okay, most recent of many) job as an assistant planner at L.A. Affairs, a hot event-planning company in Sherman Oaks. It is a little disconcerting that two minutes after meeting top event planner, Vanessa, Haley’s ordered to resign because Vanessa liked the previous assistant who quit – to save her own sanity – more. However, having already purchased eight business suits and accessorized with a Louis Vuitton satchel, Haley’s not about to give in that easily, especially with the bank sending her those troubling emails. It’s not until Vanessa literally throws Haley her first assignment to host the Sheridan Adams party and hire the elite bakery to the stars, Lacey Cakes, that Haley finally begin to doubt her good fortune. This could be because upon her first visit to the bakery Haley discovers the owner Lacey Hobbs dead. Another bad sign is that the investigating Detective Madison is quite familiar with Haley’s record of finding dead bodies and he continues his endeavor to finally prove her guilty of murder. Things could be better, especially since Haley had complained to Lacey previously about a cake for her beauty queen mother and it was on record.

The one good thing to come out of the tragedy is that, with a little help from her BFF Marcie, Haley is spurred out of her breakup zombieland and back into the world of the living, free to pursue her goal of the unattainable Enchantress evening bag. If she also has time to look into the murder, which would involve getting back in contact with her totally platonic friend, Detective Shuman, well…

A horrific tragedy puts Shuman out of play. Haley soon finds that she has the distractions set off by her breakup fog, that committed to finding her narcissistic mother a slave/maid, coordinating Holt’s fashion show out of its most unfashionable collection, not to mention the massive Beatles Themed Adams party Vanessa assigned to doom her to failure.

For all of shopaholic tendencies, lack of work ethic for jobs she dislikes, and complete disdain for polyester, Haley is a delightful and very likable character whom the reader will cheer for and revel in the absurdities of the rich and eccentric clients in her life.

To counter the Beatles experts Eleanor and Rigby, maniacs who put the manic in Beatle mania, and clients clamoring for parties for toddlers and dogs, Haley has the help of lethally hot investigator Jack Bishop, even if at their last encounter she blubbered all over him following The Breakup.

Haley is materialistic and immature, but she cares so much for her friends and family, and is so infuriated by injustice that she always remains sympathetic, appealing and multi-dimensional. Having endured a brutally superficial mother, Haley’s ability to retain her sense of humor and optimistic outlook seems all the more impressive. Clues that seem too coincidental all tie in at the end in a conclusion that resolves the main plot while leaving the little mysteries in Haley’s life unresolved for the future. As frustrating as this is, it does make reading the next installment all too essential and I will be first in line to discover the future path of Haley’s promising, but delightfully chaotic life.

To enter to win a copy of Evening Bags & Executions, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Bags,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 3, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories, including more fashion related mystery reviews & giveaways in this very issue, in our mystery section.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. Nice review about the character

  2. I love the title and would love to win.

  3. This sounds like a wonderful read, thanks for giving us Readers this great opportunity! Will have to check the books out more!

  4. This is a fun series. I’d love to won the latest release. Fingers crosses 🙂
    Scouts579(at) aol(dot)com

  5. Sounds like a great series.

  6. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher

  7. Nice review. It really sound like a lovely series


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