Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay is the first in a fun new cozy mystery series. It was quirky, smart, and was definitely a good mystery.
Set in a very vibrant London, Cloche and Dagger features an American, Scarlett, who flees Florida after a spectacular breakup that went viral on the Internet to help out her cousin Vivian at the hat shop their grandmother owned. Scarlett was a strong woman but she had a touch of needy in her personality and she doesn't know how to not be part of a couple. She is very real - her character is someone I could easily imagine knowing and being friends with. She's smart, she's hard working, and she's a people person.
The clear love interest is Harrison, a handsome Brit who is the business manager for the hat shop. I honestly didn't care for him much - he seemed judgmental and there was just something about his interaction with Scarlett and his attitude that rubbed me the wrong way. That's not to say he wasn't a good character but he certainly wouldn't be someone I would be interested in dating or even being friends with.
Viv, when she showed up, seemed a little too spacey to own and run a successful business. I get that she was supposed to be the artist but even artists have to properly run a business or they won't have one for long. However, Viv was very supportive of Scarlett but also told her the truth rather than what Scarlett wanted to hear and I do love characters like that since that is what my best friend does for me.
The secondary characters, always an important gauge to me, were also excellently written. The society ladies, the neighboring photographer and his lover, the shop assistant, and the police officers were all full characters with great personalities and provided the necessary details that help create the world in which the mystery happens.
The mystery was definitely a mystery! I had no clue who the murderer was until McKinlay revealed it. And yet, it made perfect sense when it was all lined up for me. The talent required to pull that off in a book is mind boggling and yet McKinlay does so in both series that I've read.
If you are looking for a good mystery with solid characters and a great setting, I'd definitely recommend Cloche and Dagger. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series and, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend McKinlay's Library Lovers series as well. The first book in that series is Books Can Be Deceiving.
Not only is Scarlett Parker’s love life in the loo—as her British cousin Vivian Tremont would say—it’s also gone viral with an embarrassing video. So when Viv suggests Scarlett leave Florida to lay low in London, she hops on the next plane across the pond. Viv is the proprietor of Mims’s Whims, a ladies’ hat shop on Portobello Road bequeathed to both cousins by their beloved grandmother, and she wants Scarlett to finally join her in the millinery business.
But a few surprises await Scarlett in London. First, she is met at the airport not by Viv, but by her handsome business manager, Harrison Wentworth. Second, Viv—who has some whims of her own—seems to be missing. No one is too concerned about the unpredictable Viv until one of her posh clients is found dead wearing the cloche hat Viv made for her—and nothing else. Is Scarlett’s cousin in trouble? Or is she in hiding?