Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 288pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Excerpt from Skirting the Grave
National bestselling author Annette Blair's "whimsical, witty, and wonderful" series continues as vintage clothing boutique owner Madeira Cutler helps to sew up another case.
Even though Maddie is swamped running Vintage Magic and dealing with the consequences of the visions she gets from certain of her fashion treasures, she's agreed to plan her sister Sherri's baby shower and mentor a design intern. But when Maddie goes to the Mystic train station to pick up her new student, she finds a murder scene instead. The victim: intern Isobel York. Cause of death: suspicious circumstances.
Later that evening, a woman claiming to be Isobel appears on her doorstep, and Maddie knows it's not just a case of "whodunit" but "who-is-it." Luckily a gift of lusciously luxe vintage clothes offers clues, and though the '50s wardrobe and accessories are to die for, Maddie is determined to iron out the wrinkles before the murderer can return to put an end to a promising fashion career...
Annette Blair's fourth offering in the Vintage Magic series, Skirting the Grave, gives a paranormal twist to a conventional mystery plot. Readers will love Blair's fashionista heroine, Maddie Culter, who tends to get a little more than just idea's from the vintage clothing she sells in her shop Vintage Magic. With pychometric vibes, a love triangle, returns from the dead and all of the vintage clothing you could ask for, this book is a cozy that fans can rely on for an unusual read that packs a punch. Great for a hot and sultry afternoon in the hammock!
Maddie Cutler has a lot on her plate when her sister Brandy decides to return to Mystic Falls. As the head of the Nurture Kids Foundation, Brandy is putting on a huge fundraiser and she expects Maddie to do all the planning. On top of that Brandy convinces Maddie to take on a design intern that comes from a very important family. Brandy doesn't believe in the paranormal and has no sympathy for Maddie and her vintage clothing shop. Maddie decides to make the best of it, when a huge trunk of vintage clothing arrives that belonged to the interns grandmother, but when she goes to the train station to pick her up, Isobel York is dead. Only a couple of people know about Maddie's ability to pick up vibes from vintage items that help her in solving crimes, her best friend Eve and her on-again-off again boyfriend, Nick Jaconetti. But, new interest Lytton Werner is on the case this time and he and Nick are both vying for Maddie's affection. When another woman claiming to be Isobel York shows up later on Maddie's doorstep, the plot thickens and Maddie not only as a whodunit, but a who is it to figure out!
Annette Blair continues her light and entertaining Vintage Magic mystery series with her latest book Skirting the Grave. Many readers have already met Blair's heroine, Maddie Culter in the first three books of the series, but that doesn't mean that this one can't be read as a stand alone. It can with ease, but I think readers will miss out on a lot of the little nuances that Blair uses that are more easily understood if the reader is up to speed on the series. So, go ahead and read this one and then go back and pick up the others, you won't be disappointed. Blair's use of humor to lighten the subject matter is genius. Murder isn't the most gratifying of subjects, but when you mix it with decadent vintage clothing, a dash of magic and a hint of romance, you might be on to something.
The whole idea of vintage items and clothing carrying a sense of the past is interesting to me. I know that there definitely items in my house that have a story and I think that's the idea that the author plays on for this series. Blair's heroine, Maddie has the ability to pick up on these vibes and that's what makes her such a good amateur sleuth. Putting two and two together goes a little bit differently for her than the average detective. In this book, she uses a trunk full of vintage clothing belonging to the York family to provide her with some clues to what's going on. I liked the way the author was able to bring out the stories that each piece of clothing or purse had to tell. This book has that hint of the paranormal but doesn't let it overwhelm the story.
In a sense the reader gets a two in one with Skirting the Grave. Not only do they have the whodunit aspect of the book, where Maddie is trying to piece together who killed the woman in the train station, but you also have the whole idea of who that woman was to think about. If the woman who shows up on Maddie's doorstep is the real Isobel, then who's on the slab from the train station? I thought I had this one figured out several times, but Blair foiled my attempts to figure it out all the way to the end. The hallmark of a good mystery writer is to reveal just enough to keep the reader thinking, but not enough for them to figure it out before the author is ready. I think Blair pulled that off well with this book. Her writing is clear and concise and shows a lot of humor and wit.
The love triangle between Maddie, Nick and Lytton is starting to heat up in this one. I found myself switching back and forth between Maddie's love interests. Readers will find good and bad points to each of these men and it will be interesting to see how it plans out in future books in the series. I think this little bit of added romance adds another dimension to the book and opens up the possibility to draw in some romance readers, as well as, cozy fans. With the paranormal element as well, I'm sure this book will have an audience well beyond the normal group of cozy readers.
Skirting the Grave is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
Author Annette Blair took a twenty-year roller-coaster ride to overnight success, which has made each contract, writing award, and bestseller list that much sweeter. Yes, her tenacity is legendary, though some just call her stubborn. Her Bewitching Romantic Comedies started with a root canal and a reluctant trip to Salem Massachusetts. Though she had once proclaimed she’d never write a contemporary, Annette stumbled into the serendipitous role of ‘Accidental Witch Writer’ on that trip. Funny how she managed to eat her words, even with an aching jaw. Magic or destiny; My Favorite Witch became her first National Bestseller.
The publisher is offering one copy of Skirting the Grave to one winner from Debbie's Book Bag!
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