Ribbons, feathers, sparkly beads, and colors so rich you could take a bite out of them and let their juices run down your chin, these were just a few of the reasons I became a milliner.
The other reason was my grandmother Mim. She was, like me, an odd duck. Flights of fancy took wing on her carefully crafted hat forms where she molded brims and crowns of sinamay, ramie and, of course, wool into the foundations of her artwork. From the time I could peek over the edge of her workroom table, I loved to watch her create her magic and I knew that I would be a milliner just like her someday.
Sadly, Mim passed away five years ago, leaving her shop Mim’s Whims to me and my American cousin Scarlett Parker. Scarlett spent all of her school holidays with Mim and I in the hat shop, but honestly, she has no talent for millinery. She is more of a people person.
It is Scarlett’s affection for people that seems to be getting us embroiled in one mad adventure after another, much to the chagrin of our business manager Harrison Wentworth. He bellyaches quite a bit, but I see how he looks at Scarlett. He has never gotten over the crush he had on her when we were children. Since Scarlett’s last disastrous relationship, she has made a vow not to date anyone for at least a year. Fiona Felton, my apprentice, and I have a bet going on whether the two can stay away from one another that long.
Currently, I am working on restoring a bridal hat that was made by Mim thirty years ago. Ariana Jackson, the daughter of the original bride, is hoping to wear it in her upcoming wedding. Unfortunately, when Scarlett went to her office to discuss the cost of refurbishment with her, she found Ariana crouched over the dead body of her boss. Usually, I avoid getting involved in these matters, but I so want to restore Mim’s original design to its former glory that I have thrown my lot in with Scarlett and am doing everything I can to help prove that Ariana is innocent.
Harrison’s friend Alistair Tucker is Ariana’s attorney, and I can tell by the way he has been loitering around the shop that he is interested in more than my hats. Scarlett has been hounding me about my personal life, or lack thereof, for weeks and now she is trying to push me at Alistair. I want to confide in her, I do, but I can’t tell her what I’ve done. I can’t tell anyone…
You can read more about Vivian in Death of a Mad Hatter, the second book in the “Hat Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Cloche and Dagger. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on June 2, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of DEATH OF A MAD HATTER. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.
Meet the author
A true Anglophile, Jenn McKinlay loves all things British. In her idea of a perfect world, every day would include high tea or wearing a fabulous hat, or both. This adoration of all things U.K. inspired her to write the Hat Shop Mysteries, which are set in London, one of her most favorite cities in the world. She now gets to visit London regularly—for research purposes, of course. Jenn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Library Lover’s mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery mysteries and writes under the names Josie Belle and Lucy Lawrence as well.
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