Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting | Review

I just read a really good book, y'all — Murder at Morningside, by Sandra Bretting. Let me tell you a little about it.

Synopsis, from Goodreads:

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana's Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder? 

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women's bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she's going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . . 

Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting
Series: A Missy DuBois Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery  
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Print Publisher: Kensington
Paperback: 190 pages
ISBN-10: 1601837143
ISBN-13: 978-1601837141
e-Publisher: Lyrical Underground 
e-Book File Size: 561 KB
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I really enjoyed Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting, Book 1 of the Missy DuBois Mysteries. The series has an original concept, revolving around murders committed at Southern plantations located along the Great River Road of Louisiana. 

Missy, a fashion design major and maker of hats in college, has a hat shop in Bleu Bayou, on the Great River Road. Missy's shop, Crowning Glory, specializes in custom-made wedding veils and fascinator hats for brides. The shop next door, Allure Couture, is owned by wedding-gown designer Ambrose Jackson, who soon becomes Missy's best friend. 

Missy and Ambrose are staying at Morningside Plantation for the wedding of Trinity Solomon and Sterling Brice. Missy created the bridal veil plus hats for the bridesmaids, and Ambrose designed the wedding gown and bridesmaids' dresses. 

Missy meets the bride's stepmother, Ivy Solomon, the morning of the wedding, waiting for the plantation's hat competition to start, as they are complimenting each other's hat. They quickly bond as they get to talking, and realize just how many folks they have in common (Missy's neighbors / Ivy's family).  

After the bride's body is found, Missy takes it upon herself to help Ivy solve the murder. As Missy puts it, 
How could I ever look my new neighbor, that sweet Maribelle Girard, in the eye again unless I tried to help find the killer? 
Missy is aided in her sleuthing by the criminal-defense course she took at Vanderbilt University, before she changed her major from pre-law to fashion design. She questions a lot of people, getting witness statements and alibis. There are twists and turns in Missy's investigations, as she uncovers plausible explanations for several people to have committed the murder. Whodunit? Can you figure it out before Missy does, in the climactic ending to the murder storyline?

There is a subplot involving a fashion show, which comes about when Missy takes it upon herself to help, not just one person this time, but an entire congregation of people. Missy's just a very helpful sort of person, you know? (I guess she can't help herself.)

Murder at Morningside is a fun, quick read. It was hard for me to put it down, and I finished it in two days. The settings of Morningside Plantation and the other locations in Riversbend, LA are described realistically, and in depth enough that I can picture them in my mind. 

The story is told from Missy's point of view, in first person. The characters are genuine, memorable, and likable, especially Missy and Ambrose (my favorites). Author Sandra Bretting's sense of humor shines through in her writing.

Some of my favorite parts include:
Missy's encounter with a "Civil War Reenactor" outside her room, and the unexpected aftermath
The behind-the-scenes action at the fashion show, and how all the plans come together at the last minute
What happens when Ambrose asks for ketchup for his steak in a fine-dining establishment
Since I don't reveal spoilers, you'll have to read the book to find out the details!

Book 2 of the Missy DuBois MysteriesSomething Foul at Sweetwater, will be released in December 2016. I'm dying to read it! The first two chapters were included with my e-copy of Murder at Morningside from NetGalley. 

I really enjoyed Murder at Morningside, and recommend it to all fans of cozy mysteries.  I think it will have special appeal to fans who like cozies set in the Southern US, and weddings, and fashion shows, and plantations, and....

I really enjoyed Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting, and grant it Four Kitties!    

Four out of Five Kitties
Note:  I received a complimentary copy of Murder at Morningside from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

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