I picked this one up on sale, despite figuring I wouldn’t really be its target audience (I don’t know a Lanvin from a Latverian; fashion is something I stare at when I can’t sleep (or, well, it used to be when “Fashion Trance” was a thing).
Delightfully, I was wrong.
Joanna “Jo” Hayworth runs a vintage clothing store in downtown Portland; she’s got a quiet thing going on and she keeps the rent paid. By the end of the book, she’ll have been involved in one manslaughter, one murder, and three attempted murders, all over a Lanvin coat sold to her by Marnie, a.k.a. “Goldilocks”, who once was a stripper.
“…Not that things have to be beautiful in a traditional way—”
“But that they’re beautiful in how they are what they are,” Paul said. “I get it.”
Cozy mystery: not one but three potential love interests in this one. The story pretty much keeps to the tropes of the genre, though the reasons for the murder are unique and could potentially be seen as “politically correct.”
Joanna, who is all about vintage details and clothing and perfume and jewelry should not be a protagonist I personally can identify with. Woman doesn’t have even a flip phone! But she’s an interesting, well-drawn character anyway; the one thing that Sanders did well is keep her from being as much of a stereotype or trope as the rest of the text. Actually, Sanders has a deft touch with characterization and even the minorest of minor characters still have something about them that shows they’re a unique person.
She wasn’t sure if Nina broke the conventions of her generation—former stripper, afternoon cleavage, pink cocktails—or if she was a prime example of her generation—all the above plus a firm emphasis on marriage.
I liked Jo. I wasn’t sure about any of the men who end up in her life but there’s one both she and I are willing to give a chance. There are also hints that this may be a magical universe, but not for Jo, who lives a mundane and prosaic life, at least until the body in the Lanvin coat appears.
This is a good one for a cozy mystery, and where I’m not sure I’ll pick up more books in this series (I might, I don’t know, but fashion really isn’t my thing) I can recommend it.
A quick note, for those who might read it: there is some stuff about local First Peoples I found a little bit troubling. The author does comment on her choice to do this in the Acknowledgments, so it’s not cultural blindness; and I suspect she may have a point.