Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters pull you into the book
Cons: Mystery aspect unevenly paced
The Bottom Line:
In otherwise fun debut
Will visit again
Scarlett’s Off to
England and Danger
Among the names of cozy authors I really need to spend more time reading is Jenn McKinlay. Yes, I read one of her cupcake books last year, but she has so many series out, catching up is a bit overwhelming. That’s why I latched on to Cloche and Dagger, the first in her new hat shop series. I can see why she is so popular, although I did have an issue with the book.
When Scarlett’s break up with her jerk of a boyfriend goes viral and she loses her job, even she has to agree her life is in the loo. So when her cousin Vivian suggests that she move to
and help run the hat shop they inherited from their grandmother, she agrees.
Just a few days later, Scarlett arrives only to be met by a stranger instead of Vivian. Seems Vivian has up and disappeared, and most everyone else that Scarlett talks to about it chalks it up to Vivian’s flighty artistic nature. Scarlett has a bad feeling about it, however, a feeling that only grows when one of their clients is murdered. With few friends and resources in
London, can Scarlett
figure out what is going on?
This may be a debut, but the author obviously knows how to create her characters. Scarlett is a very strong lead I identified with right away. The other characters she meets along the way are just as well developed, and I loved spending time with them.
I enjoyed spending time with them so much that it took me a while to realize the story was progressing rather slowly. Yes, things were happening, but Scarlett was much more of a reactionary character much of the time than I like in a lead. Eventually, she does start trying to figure out what is happening, and I enjoyed that, but I wish the pacing had been better overall.
Of course, one reason I was drawn to the book despite the slow mystery was the other things happening. There’s Scarlett trying to get her bearings in an area she hasn’t visited for years, make new friends, figure out the business on her own, etc. Those made for interesting reading, again because I really liked the characters.
The writing is polished and assured. The pages flew by, and I was always reluctant to put the book down when I had to get back to my real life.