Tuesday, April 8, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Cozy Mystery
Published by Obsidian (April 1, 2014)
Penguin Publishing Group
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451417206
Link:  GoodReads 


Harlow Jane Cassidy is swamped with homecoming couture requests. If only she didn’t have to help solve a murder, she might get the gowns off the dress forms…. 
Harlow is doing everything she can to expand her dressmaking business, Buttons & Bows—without letting clients know about her secret charm. When she has a chance to create homecoming dresses with a local charity and handmade mums for several high school girls—including Gracie, whose father, Will, has mended Harlow’s heart—she is ready to use her magical talents for a great cause.
But when Gracie’s date for the dance is accused of murder, Harlow knows things won’t be back on course until she helps Gracie clear the football player’s name. If Harlow can’t patch up this mess before the big game, her business and her love life might be permanently benched.


In Texas they have a saying, "Go big or go home."  Melissa Bourbon (Ramirez) does that in "A Killing Notion".  Harlow Cassidy is a dressmaker in the town of Bliss, Texas.  She is great-great-great-grand-daughter of the Butch Cassidy.  (I was grateful for the family tree at the beginning of the book.)  Because of this connection she has a 'gift', the ability to see people in the outfit that will usher in their destiny.

It's prom season in Texas, and all the girls are a-twitter about their 'mums'.  The corsage girls used to get from their dates were made of chrysanthemums.  Over the years, they have morphed into accessories that can be huge, weighing up to 20-30 pounds and requiring a frame to distribute the weight on the wearer's body.  The daughter (Gracie) of Harlow's current love-interest (Will) comes into Harlow's shop, Buttons & Bows, with her boyfriend (Shane).  Shane's attention to Gracie is engaging.  Unfortunately, at the end of the first chapter, Shane receives news that his father has been killed in an auto accident.

Even worse, Shane becomes prime suspect.  Gracie insists Shane is innocent, and Harlow believes likewise.  Then, Harlow promises Gracie that she will help prove Shane's innocence.  The town's sheriff (Harlow's step-father) and deputy (her step-brother) want none of her 'assistance'.  (Isn't that always the way in cozy mysteries?)

There is no shortage of suspects for the crime, as it turns out many people in town (and in nearby Granbury), who could have a motive to want Shane's father dead.  One of the more unusual sources of help for Harlow comes in the form of the ghost of her maternal great-grandmother, Loretta Mae.  This worked for me, as the subject of the paranormal had already been introduced with Harlow's 'gift'.  

Just when we think we have a handle on the story, and Harlow thinks she has a handle on the crime, a new twist appears.  This happens several times, enough to keep us enrapt, but not enough to make us dizzy.  When your truck (this is set in Texas, after all) rounds the final bend, you will be surprised at the scene on the road in front of you.

"A Killing Notion" is the latest installment in the Magical Dressmaking Mysteries



Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.
She is the Marketing Director with Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has written two romantic suspense novels, a light paranormal romance, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, a practical marketing guide for authors.

(Disclaimer:  I received a print copy of this book from the author, publisher and Great Escapes Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.)



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  1. I love the 'Go big, or go home' motto! I'm going to remember that. The books ounds great.


  2. A mystery with a lot of twists is my kind of book. Sounds interesting and intriguing! Thanks for sharing a fab review, LuAnn :)

  3. This sounds interesting especially since I live in Texas close to Granbury. Plus I have not heard of this Author but the books sounds like something I would enjoy and so I am going to see if I can find some of her books on Amazon or in our local bookstore as I would like to review them on my blog.

  4. Mysteries like this that aren't too heavy are always fun reads for me. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Ooh! I love it when paranormal crops up in the midst of a seemingly normal tale. Sounds like a great read.

  6. Hi Y'all!

    Just hopped over from A to Z to see if my Human might be interested in this book. Thanks so much for a great review.

    Thanks for hoppin' by to visit.

    Y'all hurry back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog