I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway (I know! Two giveaway reviews in a week! This doesn’t usually happen – I’ve only won three giveaways ever!) but that doesn’t influence what I write.
Back on more familiar territory for me here, with a fun murder mystery story from American author Jenn McKinlay. Death of a Mad Hatter is the second book in the Hat Shop Murder series (and is the first book I’ve read by this author) and centres around American Scarlett Parker and her cousin Vivian Tremont, who run a hat shop in London. As usual I’m trying to avoid spoilers in my synopsis, and I can’t say too much about the set up without giving away the plot of the first book (or at least I think I can’t!), so here goes: In Death of a Mad Hatter, an unpleasant man dies at a themed party which the girls have provided the hats for. When a trace of poison is found in the hat, the girls get involved in trying to track down who was really responsible.
This is a cozy murder mystery with a fun premise and an ingenious solution. The plot is well worked out, the dialogue snappy, the humour works and the characters are engaging. I was never bored and always wanted to know what was going to happen next. In fact the book almost seemed to wrap up too soon – although that’s not to say that the denouement was in anyway rushed, I just couldn’t believe that the book was nearly over (which is always a good sign). I read the book in a day and enjoyed it.
For me it ticks similar boxes as Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series, although this series is obviously set in the UK. And therein was my only problem with it – as a Brit there were a few things that jarred for me as being just not “right”. Now I know that this book is written for the US market – and in fact I don’t think it has been picked up by a publisher over here – so for the vast majority of people reading it, this won’t be an issue. Mainly the problems came with things that the British characters said that weren’t “right” – although as we have the NHS here the idea of a British family having a event to raise money to build a new wing at a hospital struck me as a bit odd – but hey, it could happen, after all Great Ormond Street Hospital’s charity is probably one of the most famous charities in the country!
Now this is me being really very nit-picking – because the “wrong” moments were my only problem with the whole book and it’s really a very minor issue in the grand scheme of things, because in the main the British characters and British bits were so well done that the bits that weren’t “right” bit surprised me! And I’ll still be looking out for more from Jenn McKinlay – from the cards and bookmarks that came with my copy I think her other series may be right up my street too!
Death of a Mad Hatter is presumably available all good bookshops and book retailers who stock Mass Market paperbacks in the US and over here in the UK you can get it from Foyles and Amazon (and presumably anyone else who’ll order in from the US). Jenn McKinlay’s website is jennmckinlay.com, she can be found on twitter as @JennMcKinlay and on Facebook