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DEATH BY DIAMONDS
By Annette Blair
Berkley Prime Crime, 2010 ($7.99)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Madeira "Maddy" Cutler is settling in nicely in her old hometown of Mystick Falls, Connecticut, not missing the hectic fashion scene she left behind in New York City. Her vintage clothing store in the historic town of Mystic, housed in a former mortuary/funeral home carriage house, is doing well, and her on again/off again relationship with FBI agent Nick is mostly on. Then she has that dream, the one of her mother, who died years ago, and her Aunt Fiona dancing under the full moon, passing toddler Maddy between them. That dream always signals a change in her life, for better or worse. When she opens a mysterious package delivered by an equally mysterious delivery driver and finds a note written in a familiar hand, she knows the change is not good. The package contains a gorgeous gown she'd designed for Dominique DeLong, a famous Broadway actress and an old and dear friend. The note tells Maddy that if she is reading it, Dominique is dead. Seconds later Maddy's friend Eve sees the headlines in the daily paper. It's no cruel hoax: her friend really is gone. Dominique had collapsed on stage in front of hundreds of witnesses, seemingly of natural causes.
Her frienemy, Mystick Falls Detective Sgt. Lytton Werner, comes into the shop just as Maddy is leaving to put the gown in Nick's cold storage room. He tells her a stolen delivery truck had been found with a map to her store - does she happen to know anything about that delivery and the driver? The man was bundled up like an Arctic explorer, but Eve, who has an eye for the gentlemen, can describe his body in great detail, and Maddy knows exactly what type of expensive gloves he had on. The detective tells them the priceless diamonds Dominique wore like a mask around her eyes at the end of the show are missing. Maddy could care less about that, but she has a strong suspicion that Dom's death was far from natural. When Dom's son Kyle calls and ask her to come and stay with him at his mother's New York City apartment for both personal and business reasons, she knows she has to go. For one thing, Kyle informs her she is the executor of his mother's will. That comes as a shock: usually a person is asked if they want that difficult job, but Maddy feels she has no choice. Kyle's main concern is with Dominique's bunch of hangers-on that she called the Parasites. They are already clamoring for a piece of Dominique's assets. Dom's ex-husband and business manager is part of that group, and he's number one on Maddy's list of suspects.
Another reason Kyle wants her to come and spend time around his mother's things is that Maddy has a unique "talent." When she touches clothing that has been worn before, she gets visions of the person who wore them. She and Kyle both hope she can use her skills to find out if Dom was murdered, and who did it. She does pretty well, but it comes in handy to have a boyfriend and a brother in the FBI to provide backup. Also, at least for now, Detective Sgt. Werner is in a friendly mood (almost too friendly?) and lends a hand as well.
This is the third installment of the Vintage Magic Mystery series, following A VEILED DECEPTION and LARCENY AND LACE. I will never own the luxurious garments the author lovingly describes, but I enjoy hearing about them. Maddy's talent is interesting, not too "woo woo," and lends itself to solving many different kinds of crimes. I look forward to seeing where that gift takes her next.
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