Book Review: CLOCHE AND DAGGER by Jenn McKinlay

Series: London Hat Shop Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Released: August 6, 2013
Source: Review copy from the Publisher

Not only is Scarlett Parker’s love life in the loo—as her British cousin Vivian Tremont would say—it’s also gone viral with an embarrassing video. So when Viv suggests Scarlett leave Florida to lay low in London, she hops on the next plane across the pond. Viv is the proprietor of Mims’s Whims, a ladies’ hat shop on Portobello Road bequeathed to both cousins by their beloved grandmother, and she wants Scarlett to finally join her in the millinery business.

But a few surprises await Scarlett in London. First, she is met at the airport not by Viv, but by her handsome business manager, Harrison Wentworth. Second, Viv—who has some whims of her own—seems to be missing. No one is too concerned about the unpredictable Viv until one of her posh clients is found dead wearing the cloche hat Viv made for her—and nothing else. Is Scarlett’s cousin in trouble? Or is she in hiding?


CLOCHE AND DAGGER kicks off the London Hat Shop Mystery series, and as soon as I saw it was set in London, I had to read it! I thought it was very much a “first” of a series. The stage is set, and readers get to know most of the main characters well, though the mystery could have been stronger.

Scarlett was a fun, likable character. She got herself in a big mess in Florida and became an internet star, and not in a good way. She heads across the pond to join her cousin Viv in running their grandmother’s hat shop, Mims’s Whims. But when she gets to London, Viv is missing. Is it because she’s a little flaky, or is there something sinister behind her disappearance? We don’t know. Instead of Viv, Scarlett has hunky Harrison (Viv’s finance guy) looking out for her at the shop. In the past there’s been bad blood between Scarlett and Harrison, but you can tell there’s some romantic chemistry there too.

It took a good while before the murder mystery got going. The body wasn’t found until a third of the way through, which for me is just too long to wait, though it did give readers time to connect with Scarlett and the secondary characters. I liked how the mystery played out, I just wish there had been more viable suspects and that they had been fleshed out a bit more.

I loved the Notting Hill neighborhood setting, the cousins’ elegant hat shop, and the mysterious wardrobe Viv uses to hide hats. There’s even a touch of the supernatural going on in the shop, which I hope will be expanded on in the next book. CLOCHE AND DAGGER was a light, fun read, and the snappish banter between Scarlett and Harrison had me giggling. If she plans on staying in London, Scarlett must give up her MoonPie obsession and learn to make a proper cup of tea!

Rating: 3½ Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.