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Publisher's Summary

Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim's Whims-their ladies' hat shop on London's chic Portobello Road-to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children's hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it-he's been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat that Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who's mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat.

©2014 Jennifer McKinlay Orf (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Cozy fans will eagerly await Hat Shop #3." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Beatrice
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 10-02-15

I WON'T BE FOOLED AGAIN

This will be the last book for me in this series. Scarlett, the main character, is incredibly immature and annoying. She is constantly going on and on about how attractive her friend Harrison is. But, instead of acting on the attraction, she finds small petty reasons to push him away. This goes on throughout the book and distracts from the mystery. The minors are interesting and likable. If it had not been for them, I would have given up on the book. The narrator doesn't help either. She tries too hard to make the story interesting.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An Alice in Wonderland hat party


Scarlett Parker and Vivian have kept their hat shop going for two months since the first book, Cloche and Dagger when the wealthy Grisby family walks in to get hats made for their Alice in Wonderland party in Death of a Mad Hatter. The family has recently lost the patriarch, Jeffery, who left his family 30 years earlier to live with his mistress in Italy, leaving a son and three daughters and a wife who has never been right in her mind since being abandoned by her husband. In fact, Dottie thinks that Vivian is really Vivian's grandmother, Dottie's friend. Most of the family is unhappy because Jeffery left his entire estate to his only son, Jeffery Jr. But then at the party, Kara Whittles, the mistress of Jeffery Sr., shows up yelling that the family is trying to steal her property, since everything that she had owned with the elder Jeffery has been left to the younger Jeffrey. Shortly after the police deal with Kara, Scarlett finds the body of the younger Jeffery.

Scarlett, ever nosy, gets involved in the case, particularly befriending Tina, the widow of the younger Jeffery. Scarlett earlier overheard Jeffery berating Tina for not getting pregnant (as if infertility is all the woman's fault!) and giving him a male heir, making her want to help the woman. But when Scarlett and Vivian go to the Savoy to see the Grisby family, the whole family erupts in drama, especially when Tina makes the announcement that she is pregnant, which, if she has a boy, will change the family heir to the new baby.

In the meantime, Scarlett gets pressure from her circle of friends to avoid the Grisby family, ultimately leading to Harrison, the hat shop's business manager and the man with whom Scarlett has a developing romantic relationship, to forbid her to go near that family. That creates a major blow-up that sets Andre and Nick, their gay friends who live down the street, all abuzz. But when they make up, Scarlett finds it hard to keep her personal goal not to date for a full year because of her growing, and potential mutual, attraction to Harrison.

This book was a big improvement over the previous. I didn't care for Cloche and Daggers much, but Death of a Mad Hatter made up for that disappointment. The Jenn McKinlay I have come to love in her Library series and Fairy Tale Cupcake series, has come back. Her particular strength is the way she makes her characters seem so real that you expect to look up and see them standing next to you. Scarlett comes across as a woman with a real heart that gets her into trouble because she will race to the rescue without considering danger to herself. Harrison is the stolid one always thinking of the good of the business, but his attraction to Scarlett makes him override that need to be responsible in order to protect her. And Andre and Nick are just a delightful couple who keep you smiling as you go through the book. The mystery plot also is much better than in the previous book, with more twists and clues than before.

I enjoyed the audio performance of Karyn O'Bryant. She seems well suited to talking about the whimsical setting of an upscale hat shop and uses good voices for each character. Her pacing, too, contributes to the overall enjoyment of listening to this book.

I am very glad that I chose to give Death of a Mad Hatter a try because I had a fun trip to England with it. Because the British readership does not in general like cozy mysteries, not many cozy mysteries get set in England, since writers generally write what they know. Do it was a pleasure to get to read a book based in England as seen through the eyes of an American who has just moved there. I give this book four stars!

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good story

I enjoy this cast of characters, and the Mad Hatter premise was fun. However, I correctly guessed the murderer halfway through the book.

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Good, fun read

It is an interesting story with a strong narration. It has the requisite twists and turns of the cozy mystery genre. it also has the usual flaws of the genre, such as a heroine who is a little too noble and determined to put herself in harms way for the sake of someone she barely knows. But all in all, a good read.

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Pure fluff

Just plain light entertainment. Not earth shaking but amusing and better than being awash in blood.