Publication Date: October 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 288pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Grace Carroll (Carol Grace Culver) on the WEB: website, facebook, twitter
Excerpt from Shoe Done It
Rita Jewel has a dream job selling fabulous clothes and accessories to the socialites of San Francisco at Dolce's boutique. But when a pair of heels becomes a clue in a murder, Rita finds herself engaged in a high-end crime of fashion...
Society maven MarySue Jensen has old San Francisco money and an eye for style. That's why she must have those handmade silver stillettos special ordered form Dolce's by their top fashionista, Rita Jewel. She'd die before she wore anything less at the biggest charity event of the season. That same night, MarySue Jensen's cold, lifeless body is found in Golden Gate Park... tragically barefoot.
What kid of remorseless, fashion-conscious maniac would swipe a pair of handcrafted stilettos from a corpse? With her boss a prime suspect, Rita Jewel - and unnervingly sexy detective Jack Wall - must track down a killer. But before Rita engages in such a dangerous game, she has one nagging question... What does one wear to solve a crime?
Author Grace Carroll brings readers the first book in the new Accessories mystery series, Shoe Done It. The series follows the antics of fashionista, Rita Jewel, who spends her days selling high end clothing and accessories at Dolce's Boutique in San Francisco. Carroll combines love for fashion and food into a character that cozy fans will love to read about.
Since this is the first book in the series, I have to give it a bit of grace. I don't generally write mean-spirited or hurtful reviews, but I do find it necessary to note the things that I like about a book and the things that I don't. There were several things about this book that threw up some red flags for me, but there are also some very winning points for the author as well. So, I'll start readers off with the good news about Shoe Done It.
The idea for the series has a lot of potential and I think there is an audience for mysteries set in this type of environment. Fashion is something that appeals to women and men on many different levels and from all sorts of backgrounds. Sometimes it even becomes an obsession which sets the tone for this novel.
Rita Jewel is a character that readers will like to read about. She is smart and sassy and has an eye for fashion. I think readers will definitely give this series more than one book just to learn more about her. Carroll spends an appropriate amount of time setting up the series, and balances that well with the time she spends on the mystery itself.
Carroll is very good at describing the scene, the fashions and the food that Rita encounters and readers will love the San Francisco setting. A cozy doesn't always have to be set in a small town to work. Those are the pro's from Shoe Done It, but unfortunately there are some con's as well.
When reading a cozy, I try to decide if the plot is plausible, could it happen in the real world. The answer in the case of Shoe Done It, is that it could happen but maybe not in quite the way the author portrays it. The overall concept works, but the devil is in the details with this one. The book just felt a bit disjointed. There were too many things happening at one time. That may have been partly attributed to it being the first book in the series, but I don't think that entirely to blame. The author jumps back and forth a little too much between the investigation and Rita's very hectic personal life. She has three love interests including a hunky detective, but it's a lot of hopping back and forth. There is also a sub plot about real life vampires that just doesn't seem to fit the story at all. There are a few parts where the narrator of the story tells the reader that a large amount of time has passed without leads or the case moving forward, while that may be true in real life, the reader usually isn't looking for unnecessary lulls in the action.
One of the other things I think of when reading cozies, is whether or the amateur sleuth has a good reason for being involved in the investigation. On the back of the book, we see that Rita is trying to prove her employer innocent and since she was the person responsible for the theft of the stiletto's she has a reason to be involved in the case, but the author gives Rita a secondary motive by using Rita's accident with the ladder, that just doesn't add up. MarySue supposedly pushes Rita off the ladder injuring her, the author does not state whether or not MarySue tries to help Rita in any way, but then uses the accident to give Rita a reason to investigate to "pay" MarySue back for her help. Helping injure her? That bugged me a bit. Rita also has a penchant for suspecting just about everybody in San Francisco. She doesn't narrow or pare down her list of suspects very easily and that added to the overall busyness of the story.
As I said before I always give grace to the first book in a series, because the author has a ton of set up to do and readers aren't really seeing what the finished product will be. This series has a lot of potential, if the author pays a bit more attention to the details in the future. Cozy readers are usually an astute bunch. The little things niggle at them a bit. And I think that will be the rub with this one. However, I definitely plan to read other books in this series as they come out, to see if it lives up to the potential I think it has. Don't skip this one because of a few problems, give it the benefit of the doubt and see if you agree or disagree with me. My opinion certainly isn't the only one out there.
Shoe Done It is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Carol Grace Culver aka Grace Carroll is the author of over 30 romance novels, 3 Young Adult Novels and has 5 new mystery novels coming soon - A Good Day to Pie available in August and Shoe Done It in October. In her past life she worked as a TV spokesperson for Julia Child and an ESL teacher in Algeria and Iran. She speaks French whenever she can and travels as often as possible teaching writing aboard cruise ships. A tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Shoe Done It by Grace Carroll.
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