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SKIRTING THE GRAVE

Vintage Magic Mystery #4

 REVIEWS

Another Review at MyShelf.Com
 

Skirting the Grave
A Vintage Magic Mystery, No 4
Annette Blair

Berkley
July 2011/ ISBN 978-0-425-24222-3
Mystery/Supernatural
Amazon

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


Skirting the Grave is the fourth book in Annette Blair’s fabulous Vintage Magic Mystery series. Vintage clothing is Maddie Cutler’s passion in life. Well, along with the two men who are in love with her! She owns the clothing shop Vintage Magic, and magic does happen indeed because she is blessed (or cursed) with the paranormal ability to get psychic visions from holding the previously-owned clothes. This is not always a good thing, but has helped Maddie to solve some crimes in the past.

Maddie’s sister, Brandi, is holding a very big charity event and guess who gets to organize it? Yes, Maddie. Fortunately, she has a new intern, Isobel York, who is more than capable of helping to run the store while Maddie works on the charity event. Alas, a look-alike to Isobel is murdered, and Isobel is getting death threats on the telephone. Of course Maddie, along with hunky guy friends Nick (FBI agent) and Detective Lytton Werner, investigate the murder and find themselves drawn deeper into a tangled case that turns as deceptive as a spider’s web is to a fly.

I enjoyed this book very much because it is a well drawn out mystery featuring likeable characters, and offers a healthy dose of humor and even some vintage fashion tips. There is plenty of romance with Maddie conflicted by her feelings for the two men in her life, yet no unnecessary sex scenes that would make Maddie look like a loose woman. I did wish for a little more of Maddie’s home life, but her family is also prominently featured. I missed reading more about her cat, Chakra too, and wished for a little more time with her best friend, Eve. Also present was the ghost, Dante, who exists in Vintage Magic and has an actual romance with 104-year-old Dolly!

Nevertheless, the book was a fun read, and fans of the series will be quite happy to have this new installment. It is also fine as a stand-alone read, and is suitable for all ages from tweeners on up. Annette Blair is a very skilled author, and the story, while complex, comes together nicely at the end. Violence is kept to a minimum, although there are actually two murders and some close calls. This is a good read for the beach or a lazy day sprawled out in a hammock.

 

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2011

 

 

AUTHOR: Annette Blair

13 ISBN: 978-0-425-24222-3

10 ISBN: 0-425-24222-6

KINDLE: ISBN To Come

 

5 STARS!

 

 

Madeira "Maddie" Cutler is well known in the world of fashion. She specializes in vintage clothing. In Mystic Falls, Connecticut, Maddie owns and operates her designer vintage dress shop, Vintage Magic. The shop seems quaint to customers. Only the locals know that the shop sits in a former funeral home carriage house. (Horse-drawn hearses, caskets, old embalming room, and all.) Though Maddie lives and breathes vintage fashion, she must be extremely careful whenever she handles anything classic. You see, Maddie receives psychometric vibes from items with tales to tell. The two people who know of this gift (or curse, you decide) is her best friend, Eve Meyers, and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, FBI Special Agent Nick Jaconetti. Currently Nick and Maddie are off-again. While Nick has been away on assignment, Maddie has slowly been making friends with Detective Sergeant Lytton Werner. As kids they had not like each other; however, due to Maddie's psychometry gift and her habit of attracting trouble, the two have become "frienemies". Lytton no longer tries to keep Maddie from investigating mysteries. In fact, Lytton has come to respect and value Maddie's thoughts and instincts - and that is in no way connected with the thermonuclear kiss they shared in the recent past.

 

Brandy, Maddie's sister who does not believe in the paranormal (be it abilities or spirits), is coming home. She is the development director for the Nurture Kids Foundation and is holding a huge fund-raiser next weekend. As usual, Brandy has handed the entire responsibility of its planning and organizing over to Maddie. Brandy will arrive home shortly before the event date. In addition, Brandy has coerced Maddie into hiring a temporary intern, Isobel York. Isobel is a popular model who seems to love vintage clothing as much as Maddie. In exchange for teaching her design techniques, Isobel has shipped ahead a huge trunk filled with vintage clothing (as a gift) to Maddie. But when Maddie arrives at the train station to pick up her new intern she finds Detective Werner already there. According to Lytton, the deceased lying close by has photo identification naming her to be Isobel York. So when Isobel's living body arrives very late that evening Maddie calls Lytton and Nick, who is in town at the moment.

 

Nick and Lytton are looking at some of the same players in separate cases. (Lytton with the body at the train station and Nick with a big embezzlement case.) They are also looking to win the same woman's affections. Maddie likes them both but, at the moment, does not consider either to be her boyfriend. She is too busy dealing with the upcoming fund-raiser and getting to know her new intern. Speaking of Isobel, Maddie cannot help but adore her. Isobel's knowledge and love of vintage clothing is vast. In a short amount of time, Maddie finds herself having a blast with her intern as they raid the trunk of clothing that used to belong to Isobel's Grand-mère. Problem is that Isobel comes from a rich and politically powerful family. Her father is Candidate Quincy York and he has decided to make his campaign headquarters in town.

The York family members are not exactly close or loving. Though Candidate York is in town, he has not checked up on Isobel. He is using elements from both Nick and Lytton's cases to help boost his campaign. Grand-mère and a few other key players are also slithering around town. And as the day of the fund-raiser draws near, so does a killer.

 

 

***** FIVE STARS! This story is perfect for those who enjoy some romance in their mysteries - and a bit of the paranormal. Maddie's personal relationships with Nick and Lytton are a bit expedient. Now that a triangle has formed, I find things to be even more interesting than before. The advent of Isobel's arrival does not lessen the lethal amount of testosterone surrounding Maddie either, much to my delight. Yet Blair still manages to keep the mystery plot moving forward at a good clip. For anyone that has not read the previous titles in this series, I strongly urge you to do so. Thus far every story has been outstanding. Each novel is a stand-alone mystery tale, but reading the titles in order will allow you to enjoy the making of the love triangle.

 

Dante, the resident ghost in Maddie's store, only makes token appearances. His presence is not vital to the plot, thus the author gives the handsome undertaker minimal time. He will have a role or two in future mysteries though.

 

Blair has an enigmatical writing style that kept me guessing during the entire story. I kept feeling as if I were missing just one link, one clue, or one piece of the puzzle. Any time I thought that I had all the pieces of the mystery in place and knew who was behind what and why, I was proven wrong. I became aggravated that my theory was wrong, yet thrilled at the same time because it meant the overall picture was even bigger than I had originally believed. (Only another true mystery lover will understand what I am trying to explain above.) The author's writing is also bright, colorful, and vivid. I could easily envision Maddie and Isobel roller skating around the shop in their vintage carhop outfits. Over time I have learned one major lesson: Whenever I open a book by Annette Blair, the real world fades away and I am guaranteed to be highly entertained. Fantabulous! *****

HUNTRESS REVIEWS

Reviewed by Detra Fitch

 

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