by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Dressed to Confess, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
As a town that reinvented itself throughout the decades, it only makes sense that Proper City, Nevada, would celebrate extended holidays through ever-changing costumes. For the annual Spring Sagebrush Festival the town is hosting a family friendly week of board game-themed events, a counter to the more lascivious Las Vegas casinos. Having taken over her family’s costume shop Disguise DeLimit, Margo Tamblyn is commissioned with providing the appropriate costumes for the working volunteers along with the headlining act. It’s been nearly fifty years since the Domino Divas last performed, and while the six dancers have their fans, there’s a reason they broke up in the first place. The cracks immediately appear with a dress rehearsal between Jayne Lemming and troupe organizer Ronnie Cass, whom Margo discovers murdered in the star’s trailer.
The show must go on, especially when the mayor is obsessed with promoting Proper City on his ambitious path towards the White House. Before Margo can be talked into substituting as a “Double D,” she must prove the innocence of her father’s best friend and fellow conspiracist, Don Digby. He and Ronnie shared a past together, one that extended back to a notorious bank robbery at the same time of the Domino Divas’ last performance in 1968. While Detective Nancy Nichols is exasperated with Margo’s repeated involvement in police matters, she’s not about to let the detective ignore other avenues of investigation. The completely self-involved, attention-hungry Ronnie alienated more than her share of Proper City residents, who include her own daughter, the dance troupe she cheated out of profits, and the hearts she broke and left behind. Vandalized teddy bears offer more clues to the crimes, and it will take Margo’s unique costume and sewing skills to lead her to the murderer.
There is so much to love about this series that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Margo having grown up in a costume store means that she wears costumes unselfconsciously and almost unknowingly, with the rest of the town accepting it with barely a second glance. After all, who wouldn’t want to create a new identity every day? Margo is in a tentative relationship with a Japanese-American Hawaiian, and it’s not their cultural differences but his job search that could be the greatest stumbling block. As entertainingly and very funny the mysteries become, the humor never makes light of serious topics or death.
Diane Vallere continues to showcase herself as one of the emerging authors to watch, one whose writing grows stronger with each new novel. By avoiding both clichés and characters who are Too Stupid to Live, she delivers a completely unexpected and yet logical conclusion. Murder has never been so creative or as much fun as in any of these fashion-themed mysteries.
To enter to win a copy of Dressed to Confess, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “confess,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 30, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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