The Brim Reaper: A Style & Errors Mystery By Diane Vallere

Dec 7, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of The Brim Reaper at the end of this review.

Samantha Kidd gave up her career as the senior shoe buyer for the New York store, Bentleys, to work the trend specialist for Tradava, a family-owned retail store in Ribbon, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, that position was cut short when the man who hired her was murdered and her following stint at Heist was similarly cut short. Distinctly aware of how her resume must look, Samantha agrees to use her degree in fashion history to help her former Tradava coworker, Eddie Adams, as his unpaid assistant for the Ribbon Museum of Art’s exhibit on the history of fashion. As part of the exhibit Tradava will be merchandising the hats being displayed by Hedy London, a famous noir movie actress.

Ignoring the foreboding signs that her fashion career may be doomed in Ribbon seems foolhardy, considering that Samantha and Eddie inevitably discover the bubble-wrapped body of Dirk Engle, the owner of a hat store and who was to be providing the designer hats for the exhibit. Samantha had recently heard the acrimonious Dirk having an argument in the museum, and suspects include the victim’s sister, the new museum director and former design school chairman, Christian Jhanes and his rude assistant, Thad Thomas.

On a practical level, Samantha once again finds herself out of a job and the most practical but possibly the most disastrous solution seems to be signing on as the showroom manager for her boyfriend Nick Taylor’s new shoe store. Unsurprisingly, that brings with it a predictable amount of complications when Samantha begins to sacrifice her duties, and risks her life in order to help out in the investigation when it looks as though suspicion may be leaning towards Eddie. Burdened since childhood with the need to gain approval, Samantha soon finds herself torn between her responsibilities as a manager, a girlfriend and good friend to someone in need. Samantha may not have the investigative skills, income, or legal knowledge to investigate a murder, but she will always be equipped with the perfect outfit for a burglary, theft of garbage or stalking.

Samantha returned to Ribbon when she learned that her parents were selling the home she grew up in, giving up a prestigious career in Manhattan when hit by an uncontrollable wave of nostalgia and the need to establish some sort of identity for herself. While this places her relationship with Nick in jeopardy, it makes her all the more likable, even when it has her tracking down the hat a sort-of-friend, which was lost when she was mugged.

Despite the many fun and fascinating fashion business lore and details the author provides, this never overwhelms the reader and even those who have never seen an episode of Project Runway (gasp!) will find themselves enraptured by the plot that constantly shuffles the many suspects, continually providing, fun but never unbelievable characters. Fashion is always at the forefront, but never at the cost of excellent writing, humorous dialogue, or a compelling story.

To enter to win a signed copy of Home For The Brim Reaper, 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 December 14, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories 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. Fashion ,mystery sounds like my type of book.

  2. Sounds GREAT to me! Merry Christmas to all your Happy Readers!

  3. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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