Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Nine West, Boscov's
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Brigantine beach shop
Tee: Wet Seal
Skirt: J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear (again!)
Sunglasses: Brigantine beach shop (squared!)
Dress: American Rag, Macy's
Shoes: Madden Girl, Marshalls
Bag: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's
This week's pieces don't have a whole lot in common aside from being faintly tropical. So, I'm peeking outside the (craft supply? toy? I can't seem to remember which one I haven't used yet . . .) box in search of a theme to tie this post together.
Just the right time for a triple book report, don't you think?
I'm about halfway through the third in a trio of cozies -- because what mystery fan doesn't like her mayhem wrapped up in an afghan? (All the better to mop up the mess with, I say.) Up for consideration are Mary Daheim's Clam Wake, Laura Levine's Death of a Neighborhood Witch, and Julie Hyzy's Affairs of Steak.
Happy hour goes homicidal in Clam Wake. Set in idyllic-meets-creepy island retirement community Obsession Shores in the dead of (hardy har har) winter, this mollusk gets moving when a milquetoast of a man is stabbed on the beach. Only Seattle sleuths Judith and Renie can schmooze the booze-loving oldsters to find the killer before the next shell shocker -- but not before having a few of their signature wacky run-ins. Death of a Neighborhood Witch occupies similar territory, shamelessly employing corny humor to describe the murder (also, incidentally, a stabbing) of a one-hit-wonder sitcom star in the slums of Beverly Hills. This caper is captained by lovable loser Jaine Austen, author of not acclaimed novels, but award-winning plumbing ads (in this book she branches out to mattresses; her Bernie the Bedbug is as cute a creation this side of Disney). Reading both books was like -- to impose upon a much-loved cliche -- visiting with old friends. Deranged, dysfunctional friends, but friends nonetheless. Judith and Renie's irreverence and Jaine's self deprecation are endlessly endearing, softening the (always fatal) blow of the very murders they seek to solve. Chock-full of puns, caricatures, and other mass market paperback guilty pleasures, these whodunits know how to deliver. Affairs of Steak, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. White House head chef Olivia "Ollie" Paras and prickly sensitivity director (yes, that's really a thing) Peter Sargeant discover two staffers stuffed into tilt-skillets (also, apparently a thing), an incident that Hyzy describes in somewhat graphic detail. Which should have been my first, ahem, clue, that this mystery would be no laughing matter. With all the pomp and circumstance that we've come to expect from the White House, Affairs of Steak is undeniably the most serious of the three stories. Hyzy puts the political in party, and I'm not talking donkeys and elephants. The characters are high-strung instead of silly, career-climbing instead of quirky. Protocol rules the day, and even the most innocuous conversations are fraught with enough tension to keep the interrogation bulb perpetually burning. On the up side (for I strive to be a kindly, if not always Pollyanna, blogger), it's more cloak and dagger -- and therefore dramatic -- than its kookier counterparts. It also seems a little more realistic, what with its earnest officers instead of the usual bumbling cops. Finally, Affairs of Steak has the distinction of being the only culinary cozy of the triumvirate, complete with recipes. Death by Chocolate, anyone?
So, which novel most ignited my intrigue, tickled my funny bone, and had me turning the pages long after midnight? It was a close call (between Clam and Witch, of course, not Steak; that sad sack was never in the running) -- but Daheim's done it again! Her Clam Wake puts the fun in funeral.
Hey, somebody had to say it.