Book Review: DEATH OF A MAD HATTER by Jenn McKinlay

DeathMadHatter
Series: Hat Shop Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim’s Whims—their ladies’ hat shop on London’s chic Portobello Road—to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children’s hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it—he’s been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who’s mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat…


DEATH OF A MAD HATTER was great fun to read.  This time around, cousins Scarlett and Vivian are hired to design hats for a special charity event. The wealthy Grisby family is hosting an Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea to raise money for expansion on a local children’s hospital. Each family member is wearing a fanciful hat inspired by characters from Alice in Wonderland. Guests are having a merry time until the Mad Hatter hat wearer ends up dead in the garden, and Scarlett and Viv are once again pulled into a murder investigation.

I liked being back with the girls at Mim’s Whims. Their hat shop sounds so charming, and I love its Notting Hill location. While Viv is the hat designer and maker, Scarlett prefers waiting on customers and ringing up sales. Scarlett is a gregarious and empathetic person, though she can be childish at times, especially when she’s jealous! She’s also a clever and determined amateur sleuth who won’t stop until the culprit is exposed. Vivian, on the other hand, is still a bit of a mystery. Yeah, she’s withholding something big about herself, and I hope that we get to know her better in the next book.

DEATH OF A MAD HATTER was an enjoyable continuation of the Hat Shop Mystery series. Light, witty, and fun. The mystery was intriguing with lots of viable suspects. We get to learn more about the cousins’ business manager Harrison and his involvement with the shop. Scarlett and Harrison continue to dance around the fact that they’re mad for each other, which made for some funny and frustrating moments. I do wish they’d stop butting heads already!

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

Book Review: CLOCHE AND DAGGER by Jenn McKinlay

ClocheDagger
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.