I have to tip my hat to Jenn McKinlay. She manages to successfully juggle multiple mystery series, while keeping the sexual tension high and the humor in the forefront. At the Drop of a Hat, her third Hat Shop mystery is filled with suspense, humor, and the already mentioned sexual tension. That actually adds to the humor as McKinlay's amateur sleuth Scarlett Parker fights her attraction to a childhood friend who grew into a hot business partner.
Scarlett and her cousin, Vivian Tremont, inherited a hat shop, Mim's Whims from their grandmother. But, when Viv needed money, she sold part of the business to their bookkeeper, Harrison Wentworth, who does his best to keep the two women out of trouble. This time, though, it's a client who shows up on Harrison's recommendation that leads them into trouble.
When Ariana Jackson shows up wanting a hat restored for her wedding, Viv and Scarlett recognize it as one their grandmother made, and Viv is eager to take on the job. When Ariana doesn't return their phone calls, Scarlett goes to her workplace. It's there she finds Ariana in the backyard, standing over the body of her dead boss, Anthony Russo. A friend of Scarlett's said, "Anthony Russo is known for being a womanizing, drunken, lascivious letch...And a gambler." And, now he's dead, and the future bride has good reasons to want him dead.
Ariana's lucky. She has a top-notch attorney, a supportive fiance, and, Scarlett and Viv believe she's innocent although all the evidence says otherwise. And, now that Scarlett has sworn off men, she has time to devote to the cause. How did she go from dating handsome men to skulking around playing cat burglar with her cousin? And, Harrison? Since he can't seem to keep Scarlett and Viv out of trouble, he insists on accompanying Scarlett on her mission. She just can't seem to keep her mind on the job, though, when he's around.
Jenn McKinlay excels at mysteries featuring strong, supportive relationships between women. Scarlett and Viv are there for each other, and, in this case, supportive of Ariana as well. Although Scarlett, with her American lack of understanding of British humor is often the butt of jokes between her friends, the humor is kind.
Humor, friendship, a touch of romance, and, of course, a mystery, all revolving around a British hat shop. At the Drop of a Hat is another charming treat from a storyteller who seems to have a limitless imagination.
Jenn McKinlay's website is www.jennmckinlay.com
At the Drop of a Hat by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 97804258910 (paperback), 292p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.