Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters we’ve missed in a great mystery. Puns!
Cons: A couple niggles, but nothing major
The Bottom Line:
Hats at a dog show
Along with a dead body
Brimming with Fun, Doggone It!
I was thrilled when I learned a few months back that Jenn McKinlay was working on a new Hat Shop Mystery. I was so late to starting her books that I actually used cousins Scarlett and Viv as my introduction to her writing, catching up on this series before I jumped into her others. I’m thrilled to report that Buried to the Brim didn’t disappoint at all.
Just like it’s been a while since the last book came out, it’s been a while for Scarlett and Viv. Mim’s Whims, the hat shop the two run in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London, is doing well. However, they are surprised when they are asked to make a hat for an unusual client. Betty Wentworth, Scarlett’s fiancé Harrison’s aunt, is about to enter a dog show with her dog, Freddy, and she is hoping that a top hat will launch him from second place to first place this year. At first Viv, who designs the hats, is reluctant, but soon she is on board, and everyone is delighted with the results.
However, the contest weekend gets off to a rocky start during the cocktail party that kicks things off when Betty gets into an argument with Gerry Swendson, the owner of the dog food company that sponsors the show. The next morning, Freddy is the one to find Gerry’s very dead body. With the police looking at Betty, Scarlett begins digging in, trying to figure out who else had motive. It quickly becomes apparent that this dog show is far from cute. But who committed murder?
While time may have passed since I read book five, it felt like no time had passed once I picked up the book. I was quickly back in Scarlett and Viv’s world. There were a few details from the last book I had forgotten and a surprise I suspect might have happened when the characters showed up in one of the Library Lovers Mysteries I haven’t gotten to yet. (Must read faster!) Anyway, these moments were minor and happened early in the book, and it was wonderful being with these characters again. All the supporting characters we love are back, and it is obvious that Jenn missed them to, since they each gets plenty of moments to shine. One sub-plot is designed to advance some relationships and was very, very fun.
And the mystery? It was fantastic as well. While it was obvious who the victim was going to be early on, the rest of the mystery surprised me. I had no clue who done it or why until Scarlett figured things out at the end. The solution was completely brilliant, too. I loved it.
Since it’s been a while since I read the previous book, I was surprised to find a few very mild swear words in this book. I didn’t remember that being a feature of earlier books in the series. There was also a needless moment near the climax that pushed me out of the book. Both of these are minor complaints, overall, and worth noting only in passing.
I love puns, and one of the running gags in the series involving them has always been a favorite. I’m happy to report that this is still present and better than ever.
I’m allergic to dogs, so I’ve never been much of a dog person, but I’ve got to say the dog cuteness in this book was off the charts. It was enough to make me almost think about getting a dog myself. Except for the whole allergy thing, of course.
It really felt like no time had passed since we last got to visit Scarlett and Viv, which means their fans will be pleased to pick up Buried to the Brim. And if you haven’t yet started this series, you really should do so today.
Need more hats and clues? Here are the rest of the Hat Shop Mysteries in order.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
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 Tuesday, February 4th, so please leave your comment before midnight Pacific Time on 2/4. You will have until midnight on 2/9 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 2/10.