Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum

Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum
A Crime of Fashion Mystery

Signet (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-451-221-788 (0451221788)
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-221-780 (9780451221780)
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): Can Lacey Smithsonian save Christmas?

It’s a Christmas in crisis at The Eye Street Observer, and guess who’s taking the blame. The op-ed page is attacking gaudy holiday sweaters! The food editor is boycotting her baking! Lacey’s two least favorite people at the newspaper are on a murderous collision course! And a vicious unsolved attack in the alley (with an oversized candy cane?) has the whole newsroom on edge. Is Lacey ruining Christmas, or is all of , ruining hers? To save Christmas, Lacey must unravel the secret of a mysterious child last seen wearing a shepherd’s robe from a Nativity scene—and face a killer who would destroy more than just a child’s Christmas.

Review: The fifth entry in the "chick-lit" Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum, Grave Apparel, is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. The series features fashion editor Lacey Smithsonian of the Washington DC newspaper, The Eye Street Observer.

It is Christmas. There are splashes of red and green everywhere. Everyone at newspaper is looking forward to the annual party, all except Cassandra Wentworth, the editorial writer. Cassandra hates Christmas, the noise, the colors, the busy streets and stores. Most of all, she hates Felicity Pickles, the food columnist, with her home-made Christmas decorated cookies and gaudy over-decorated sweater with Santa, Rudolph, elves, the sleigh and anything else she can think of that represents the holidays. Cassandra had written a scathing, vile article for her editorial column panning everything about the holidays, especially the sweaters. The workers at the paper took to calling it "sweatergate”. The night of the party, Lacey receives a call from Cassandra’s cell phone. She almost didn’t answer it, but since it was Christmas she decided to be nice. She hears the voice of a child pleading with her to come quickly to the alley in back of the building a lady was dying. Lacey called 911 immediately, and then ran down to the alley. There she finds a child in a shepherd’s robe standing over Cassandra. The child tells Lacey that the lady was hit over the head with a huge candy cane by a Santa dude, mandatory dress code for men attending the office party. Lacey kneels down to check on Cassandra and finds she is unconscious, but was not dead. But what a surprise: Cassandra is wearing Felicity’s outrageous sweater. When she turns around to get more information, the child has disappeared. Now Lacey, who had said she definitely will not become involved with any more crimes, has indeed become involved. After a few twists of fate, Lacey believes it was the little shepherd the killer was after, not Cassandra. Now she must find the child before the killer does.

Byerrum has populated her story with a delightful cast of characters and has created a narrative with such excitement that the pages just fly by. Holiday mysteries, especially those that are intentionally written with a light touch, are among the most fun to read: the festivities of the holiday add an interesting contrast to the crimes that take place and are under investigation. For a sub-genre that often produces utterly forgettable books, Grave Apparel hits all the right notes and is a cut above the rest.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Grave Apparel and to Breakthrough Promotions for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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