Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Growing characters, good mystery, plenty of fun
Cons: Scarlett and Viv’s motive for investigating is weak at best
The Bottom Line:
Charming and fun book
Investigating dead boss
To clear a new friend
Fun is Not Dropped from this Book
When I learned the title of the third Hat Shop mystery from Jenn McKinlay, I had to laugh. I have used the phrase At the Drop of a Hat for years (and this is coming from a guy who only wears a hat one weekend a year). My connection to the title must have been a good omen since this is my favorite in the series to date.
The series follows Scarlett Parker and her cousin Vivian Tremont who are running the hat shop they inherited from their grandmother. Scarlett has recently moved over from America, where she was raised except for summers with Mim and Viv. She’s only been over there a few months and is still adjusting to her new life.
Ariana Jackson walks in to Mim’s Whims one day with a hat that Mim made years ago. She is hoping that Vivian can repair it for Ariana’s upcoming wedding to Scott, one of Harrison’s friends. Viv is honored to be asked to repair the hat and begins to make her plans.
However, Ariana never responds to any of their calls or texts to approve things before Viv actually gets to work. Finally, Scarlett decides to visit her at work, only to arrive to the sound of a scream. Rushing through the office, Scarlett finds Ariana in the backyard of the office/house kneeling next to the body of Ariana’s boss, Anthony Russo. The police seem to think that Ariana had something to do with Anthony’s death, and every piece of evidence seems to back them up. But Scarlett and Viv are certain that Ariana is innocent. Can they prove it?
The plot moves forward at a steady pace. A couple of sub-plots slow things down a tad early on, but they are entertaining. The further we go into the book, the more the mystery takes center stage, and there are twists and clues to keep us confused. I did figure out part of the solution about five pages before Scarlett did, but I didn’t have all the pieces until she revealed them.
Speaking of Scarlett, I find her growth as a character charming. As our first person narrator, she’s always been the strongest character in the series, however Viv plays a bigger part in this book, and I enjoyed getting to know her better as well. The rest of the cast are equally charming and memorable be they series regulars or suspects. In fact, there are a couple of new characters I wouldn’t mind seeing pop up again.
After the last book, I’d complained about Scarlett’s relationship with Harrison Wentworth, her love interest and part owner of the business. I’m happy to see that things have smoothed out some in this book, which shows the character growth in both of them, actually.
In fact, the only complaint about this book is that Scarlett and Viv really don’t know Ariana well enough to be investigating. However, their lack of motive to investigate didn’t matter much to me since I was having so much fun.
There are some very funny moments in the book that delighted me. They drew a few laughs and plenty of smiles from me.
While the mystery is resolved, there is a cliffhanger on the last page that will leave you desperate for the next book in the series. I’m guessing it won’t be out until early next year, but I want it now!