Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere (Costume Shop Mysteries #1)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fully fleshed out characters; fun setting; wonderful mystery
Cons: Any cons have been disguised
The Bottom Line:
New series debuts
Outstanding characters and
Page turning story




I Won’t Disguise My Love of This Debut

Months ago, Diane Vallere told me about her upcoming Costume Shop Mystery series, and I immediately started looking forward to it because it sounded like a fun setting for a mystery series.  Now that I’ve read A Disguise to Die For, I can tell you it exceeded my expectations.

Margo Tamblyn has returned to her home town of Proper, Nevada, and the family costume shop, Disguise DeLimit.  It’s supposed to be temporary until her father has recovered from a heart attack.  It’s a good thing she is there to help out since Blitz Manners has just placed a rush order for 40 detective costumes for his upcoming birthday party.  The costumes cover the range from books and TV and include many famous detectives.  Blitz himself has reserved the classic Sherlock Holmes costume.

The party has just gotten into full swing when Margo walks into the kitchen to find Blitz dead on the floor and Margo’s friend Ebony standing over the corpse with a knife in her hand.  Naturally, the police begin to look at Ebony as their chief suspect, and a secret in Ebony’s past might be her motive.  However, Margo knows Ebony and knows her friend couldn’t have done it.  Can Margo use detective costumes to bolster her own abilities and figure out which of the other detectives is a killer?

Since I’ve previously read two of Diane’s books, I knew to expect a puzzling mystery with plenty of suspects and red herrings.  On that front, the book delivered perfectly.  I had no clue what was happening until Margo figured it out at the end, yet the ending was perfectly logical with great clues along the way.  I do think one red herring wasn’t completely resolved, although it is a very minor issue that doesn’t truly matter.  And there are some masterful red herrings along the way.

What I think surprised me most about this book was the characters.  There was a depth to them that I don’t usually see in the books I read, and certainly not in the first in a series.  Usually, a debut is just worried about introducing the characters and the setting of the series, and deeper development comes later.  This book delved much deeper than that, yet that development was completely organic to the story and didn’t slow things down at all.  Heck, the victim was even a much fuller character than normal by the time the story was over.

And, of course, the costume aspect was a complete blast.  I’m not much of a costume guy, but that’s because I’m not super creative when it comes to pulling things together like that.  I got a kick out of the detective name dropping that happened in this book, everyone from Sherlock Holmes (obviously) and Miss Marple to Shaft, Columbo, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Frank and Joe Hardy, Veronica Mars, and Trixie Belden.  Yes, that last one is a huge bonus for me since I’m still a huge Trixie Belden fan.  At the end of the book, we get a complete list of the detective costumes mentioned in the book as well as some suggestions for recreating four of them yourself.  Not to mention Margo regularly dresses in costumes, and I always got a kick out of seeing what she’s pick from day to day.

Plus there are also a couple of recipes in the back.  One is guaranteed to give you a great laugh.

I never wanted to put this book down, and the pages flew by all too quickly.  When you pick up A Disguise to Die For, you’ll lose yourself in the costumes and pages.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Giveaway!

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner next Tuesday, February 9th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 2/9.  You will have until midnight on 2/14 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 2/15.

25 comments:

  1. I fully agree! This book was just so much fun and from other books I've read by Diane Vallere I expect no less. This one was quite a ride!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a wonderful book and always love those cozies that you can't put down. ptclayton2@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oooohhhhh! This one sounds like fun! I'm always looking for a new series and this one sounds like it will fill the bill. Thanks, Mark!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another good review. Sounds like a good book. skatzed@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds like an author I need to investigate! Bad pun, I know!. plaidjester@yahoo.com. Michelle McDaniel

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely review - I've become addicted to yours! I review books for Mystery Scene Magazine, but yours sound so wonderfully free and easy (though I know they probably aren't). I've also been involved in theatre with photography, and in the Glendale Costume Shoppe. Love to read this one too, at your glowing grecommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds like the beginning of a fun new series. Can't wait to read it. Great review & thanks for the giveaway! Fingers crossed!
    Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Would Love to win this for my daughter Kelsey Reese if wins her email is kelseyreese19@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the review! It sounds really good! The only thing missing is Bear on the cover...

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like a good read. Zeta@iwon.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I haven't read any of her books, but I would love to start! Mfg20A@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've enjoyed reading Diane's work in the past so I've been really looking forward to reading this. Your review only makes it sound better than it already did. Thanks for the chance to win.

    robbfan141729@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great review. Love this author's other series. Thanks for the chance to win. doward1952@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the sound of this book, and when I have previously tried your recommended books I haven't been steered wrong!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I saw this on the Trixie Belden FB page. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have become a great fan of Vallere's and can't wait to meet Margo. Thanks for the review and chance to win.
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  17. This would be a great book to add to my cozy challenge list. Thanks for a chance to win a copy. elainehroberson(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love this review, and it sounds like a great book. I can't wait to read it. frybbe@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I really like her other series so I happy to see a new one. Congrats

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

    ReplyDelete
  20. A new series and Trixie is mentioned???? Sweet! I've never read anything Diane has written, but I enjoy mysteries, costume and fashion pieces, and finding new authors to live, so this sounds like something I could really get into. Thanks for the review!

    Shoezimm at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Since I've never heard of her books (I've seen her on Facebook because I'm part of the Trixie Belden group, too) it sounds like a great read. I love when authors pay homage to inspiring characters.

    Here's my email: cheddartrix(at)yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well, I totally loved the other Diane Vallere books and I have been waiting for this one! Sounds like another great one!

    email: JennyBoyd@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I can't wait to read this story and discover the Trixie connection for myself!

    email: pamelaa.powell@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. I wish I lived in the US, it sounds like a great start to the series! Good luck to all who enter!

    ReplyDelete
  25. It sounds good Mark.

    hettyholl@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete