Copy Cap Murder (A Hat Shop Mystery)

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9780425279588: Copy Cap Murder (A Hat Shop Mystery)
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The New York Times bestselling author of At the Drop of a Hat returns to her London hat shop with a fresh tale of milliners and murder.
For Scarlett Parker, part of the fun of living in London is celebrating the British holidays, and she’s excited to share her first Bonfire Night with her cousin Vivian Tremont. Invited to a posh party by their friend Harrison Wentworth, Scarlett and Viv decide to promote their hat shop, Mim’s Whims, by donning a few of their more outrageous creations. The hats prove to be quite the conversation starters as the girls mix and mingle with the guests—never suspecting that one of them is a killer. 

It’s a cold, clear night, perfect for the British tradition of tossing a straw stuffed effigy of Guy Fawkes, traitor to the crown, onto the bonfire. But instead of a straw man, they realize in the heat of the moment that the would-be Guy Fawkes is actually Harrison’s office rival and he’s been murdered. Before the smoke has cleared, Harrison is the Metropolitan police’s prime suspect, and Scarlett and Vivian must find the real homicidal hothead before their dear friend’s life goes up in flames.

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About the Author:

A true Anglophile, New York Times bestselling author 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 regularly—for research purposes of course.

In addition to being the author of the Hat Shop Mysteries, including At the Drop of a Hat, Death of a Mad Hatter, and Cloche and Dagger, Jenn also writes the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries and the Library Lover’s Mysteries.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Jenn McKinlay

Acknowledgments

Praise for New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay’s Hat Shop Mysteries

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Jenn McKinlay

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Special Excerpt from Vanilla Beaned

Chapter 1

There was a sneaky draft taunting me while I worked the front counter at Mim’s Whims, the hat shop I co-own with my cousin Vivian Tremont. It slipped through the cracks of our old building and snuck up on me; sliding beneath the collar of my shirt with its cold fingers and making me shiver.

Well, two could play this game. I had stopped by the Tool Shop in Marylebone over by Regents Park and picked myself up a caulking gun and the junk you put in it. I felt like one of Charlie’s Angels with my caulk gun on my hip, filling in any gap that allowed November to blow its wintery breath across my skin.

I had already filled four cracks when I felt another gust of chilly air. I pulled my caulk gun out of my tool belt and whirled around, ready to fire goop into the offending orifice.

“Blimey, don’t shoot, Scarlett. I just had this suit pressed.” The handsome man who entered the shop slowly raised his hands in the air as if this would make me less likely to blast him.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t,” I said. I did not lower the gun; instead I squinted at Harrison Wentworth over the top of it as if I were adjusting my aim while I tried to ignore the ridiculous fluttery feeling that filled my chest at the sight of him.

“Rough day, Ginger?” he asked. His voice was kind when he used my nickname but his eyes were laughing at me and it looked like his lips weren’t far behind as he pressed them together as if to keep the guffaws in.

“Yuck it up, Harry,” I said. I liked to use his nickname, too, the one he’d gone by when we were kids. The one he didn’t care for now. I holstered the caulk shooter. “You’re not the one freezing to death in this drafty old building.”

“It’s Harrison,” he corrected me. “And I think it’s actually quite toasty in here.”

He shrugged off his overcoat and draped it over his arm. “Maybe you should wear more layers.”

I glanced down at my outfit. I had on a cashmere heather gray turtleneck, a black wool cardigan and a black corduroy miniskirt over thick gray tights paired with my favorite black riding boots.

“I’m pretty sure the only people wearing more clothes than me this early in November live in the polar regions,” I said.

This time he did laugh. “Scarlett Parker, your Florida is showing.”

“It is, isn’t it?” I asked. “What I wouldn’t give for a martini on the beach right now.”

“I can’t offer you that, but I can give you a mulled wine and a bonfire in Kensington,” he said.

“No palm trees?” I asked.

“No, ’fraid not.”

“No sand between my toes?”

“No.”

“No bikini?”

“No, damn shame,” he said.

“Actually, that’s a high point,” I said. “With this ghostly complexion I’ve got going I’d scare even the sharks away.”

“I don’t think anyone in their right mind would notice your complexion if you went trotting by them in a swimsuit,” he said. The look he gave me scorched.

And that right there was the trouble with Harry. He gets me so flustered I can’t even think. Yes, it could be his charming British accent or his wavy brown hair, his broad shoulders and his bright green eyes, but I think it was more than that. Honestly, I liked Harry for more than the swanky packaging. I liked him for himself.

I liked the way he was unfailingly polite to everyone from waiters to bus drivers to elderly ladies in the street. I loved the sound of his laugh and how he always seemed delighted to find himself laughing and it made him laugh even harder. I enjoyed the way he whistled when he made tea, even though he was not the most gifted person in the whistling arts. And I loved how gentle he was with the young children and pets we frequently ran into on walks in Hyde Park. Even his own particular scent, a manly bay rum sort of smell, had worked its way into my head and I found any man who didn’t smell like Harry was lacking.

“Well, what do you say?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I hesitated.

First, I needed to be clear that this was not a date. Yeah, I know he was the perfect male but that didn’t mean I was ready to date. My mother, bless her heart, had convinced me to go one whole year without dating anyone at all. This may not sound significant but I had never gone more than two weeks between boyfriends before, so yeah, kind of a big deal.

Why did I agree to my mother’s crazy suggestion? Good question. True story, funny story, okay, it isn’t funny to me yet, but I’ve been assured that it will be someday. In a nut, my last boyfriend and I had a breakup of epic proportions, the kind that found a video of me, aka the party crasher, throwing fistfuls of wedding anniversary cake at him.

Yes, you read that right. My boyfriend was married, not to me, and I didn’t take the news very well. It went viral on the Internet and I pretty much had to flee the state of Florida and, well, the continent of North America to save face. Talk about your walk of shame.

Needless to say when my cousin Viv sent me a one-way ticket to London encouraging me to take up my half of the millinery business we had inherited from our grandmother Mim, I was all in. It’s been eight months now and it’s almost begun to feel like home.

I love my cousin and our friends, dearly, but as the holiday season approached, and the cold air took up permanent residence in our abode, I was surprised to find I was feeling more homesick than I had expected. And I did not want to throw myself at Harrison in a weak moment of pitiful loneliness, so I needed to be very clear on the boundaries of his suggested mulled wine and bonfire.

“How does one dress for a bonfire?” I asked.

Yes, this was my pitiful attempt to get more information. Harry knew I wasn’t dating and he’d said he was willing to wait, which I hadn’t believed, but it had been months and as far as I knew he wasn’t dating anyone else. Another point in his favor, unless this was his sly way of getting me to go on a date without actually asking me on a date; boys can be sneaky like that, you know.

“Bonfire?” Viv asked as she entered the store front from the workroom in back. “Who’s dressing for a bonfire?”

“We all are,” Harrison said. “My company is having a huge Guy Fawkes party and you’re all invited.”

“Me, too, yeah?” Fiona Felton, Viv’s apprentice, asked as she followed Viv into the room.

“Absolutely,” Harrison said.

Now I was irritated that it had not been a covert way to ask me out. I’m impossible to please, yes, I know.

“Who is Guy Fawkes?” I asked.

All three of them turned to look at me. This was another one of those moments where I just felt utterly, boorishly, ignorantly American.

“Ginger, really?” Harrison asked.

“Do you know who Bigfoot Wallace is?” I countered.

“Basketball player,” he guessed.

“No.” I laughed. “He’s an American folk hero, so don’t be judgy just because I don’t know who Guy Fawkes is.”

“Was,” Fee said. She blew an orange corkscrew curl out of her eyes and smiled. “He failed to blow up Parliament in 1605.”

“Oh, he does have Bigfoot Wallace beat then,” I said. “Wallace was a Texas Ranger, one of the good guys actually.”

“Guy Fawkes night is bonfire night,” Viv said. She looked delighted as she looped her arm through mine. “You’ve never been here for bonfire night before, this will be so much fun.”

For Viv alone I would freeze my tail feathers off and go to the bonfire. Things had been strained between us for the past several weeks. You see, Viv is the eccentric artist in our business while I am more the people person. She and Fee create amazing hats for people and I charm them into buying them. It’s a system that works for us.

Unfortunately, Viv takes after our grandmother in more than just her creativity. She is impulsive, rash, scatterbrained, impetuous and reckless, especially when chasing down some crazy artistic whim or another. Most recently, she had leveled me with the news that she is married. Yes, married.

Shocking, right? It wouldn’t be so bad but so far she has refused to give me any details. I don’t know his name, where he’s from, how they met, how long they’ve been married, or where he is right now. I badgered, cajoled, begged, pleaded, whined, stomped my feet and bellowed, but Viv could not be moved. She has refused to tell me absolutely anything about her husband. Not one darn thing. It has sort of festered between us like a hot boil because, yeah, we can be like that sometimes.

What’s worse is the fact that Harry knew about her marriage and he never, not once, even hinted to me about it. I was still sore at him for that, which was another reason I had been keeping him at arm’s length. I was still a bit miffed at him, even though he had assured me that he knew no particulars about the marriage, just that it had happened.

“Where’s the party?” Viv asked.

“My boss’s house in Kensington,” Harrison said. “He’s hoping to make a splash in the society pages.”

“We can wear some hats from the shop,” Fee said. “It’ll be a nice opportunity to advertise our creations amongst Harrison’s posh clients.”

“I thought we were his posh clients,” I teased.

“Well, there’s certainly no one quite like you . . . three,” Harrison said.

His gaze moved away from me to include the others and again I was charmed stupid by his ability to make me feel that I alone had his attention while I admired his sensitivity in including the others, who were actually much more attractive than me.

I glanced at Viv, with her long blond curls, big blue eyes and curvy figure; she was a woman who turned heads everywhere she went. And then Fee, with her West Indies heritage, boasted a lovely dark brown complexion and a model’s figure, tall and thin, that she topped off with her amazing hair, which she wore in a curly bob that she liked to streak with unusual colors; currently it was orange. I’d seen men literally walk into walls when she passed by. Then there was me, medium height, average figure, too many freckles to count and shoulder-length auburn hair that was on the thin side. I most definitely got by on my personality.

Still, Harrison was right. We made a threesome that was hard to ignore, mostly because Viv made us wear her most outrageous hats whenever we went anywhere together. I wondered if that was why he had invited us.

“Aren’t we a bit small scale to be invited to your boss’s shindig?” I asked.

“Ginger, you’re overthinking it,” Harry said. “It’s a bonfire with music, mulled wine and a view of the city’s fireworks.”

Both Fee and Viv nodded in agreement as if I was being silly for thinking that a bunch of milliners at an investment broker’s party was weird. But they didn’t see what I saw, which was that Harry wasn’t meeting my eyes.

Perhaps because I hadn’t dated him and gotten bored with him just yet, I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about Harrison Wentworth and covertly studying the man who took up entirely too much of my head space. In any case, I knew him and I knew he was hiding something. I was sure of it. And now, no matter what crazy creation Viv wanted to slap onto my head, nothing could keep me from attending the party.

Chapter 2

“I refuse to wear that,” I said to Viv. “There is nothing you can say or do that will change my mind.”

“Oh, don’t be difficult, Scarlett,” Viv said. “You’ll look adorable in it.”

I frowned at the felt concoction she was holding out at me. It was a bright yellow cap like something a paperboy in the nineteen twenties would wear. It was lumpy on top and saggy at the back and the narrow brim would sit just over my eyes, destroying my visibility.

“I’ll look like a flattened banana,” I argued. “I’m not wearing it, unless . . .”

“Unless what?” Viv looked wary. Smart girl.

“Tell me about your husband,” I said. “Name. Birthplace. Occupation. Anything.”

“No.” She blanched. “I can’t.”

“Why?” I asked. Yes, I was trying to give her time but every now and again I felt the need to poke the bear with the stick to see if I could get her to bite or at least offer up some details.

“It’s too . . .” Her voice trailed off and she shook her head.

I stared at her. What was the big secret?

“Oh, my god, he lives with his mother, doesn’t he?” I asked. “And you can’t get him to leave her.”

She looked as if she was going to let me believe that for just a moment and then her chin dropped to her chest in defeat. “I wish the problem was his mother.”

“What do you mean?”

“Never mind, I’m not discussing this anymore.” Viv looked at the hat and then at me. She had a very determined look in her eyes and I had a feeling she was transferring her conflicted feelings about her marriage to my head and a hat. “You have to wear a hat.”

“Fine,” I said. I realized it was time to put my stick down before the bear mauled me. “But not that one.”

“Which would you prefer?” Viv asked.

“That one,” I said. I pointed to the hat on her head.

“But . . .” Viv puffed out her lower lip.

I snatched the bright blue cashmere ribbed beanie off of her head and moved over to a mirror, where I could try it on. It was a perfect fit, very hip and cool without the nerd quotient of the hat she’d been trying to get me to wear. Plus, she had hand stitched seed pearls all over it, giving it a solid wow factor.

“This will do,” I said.

“Oh, that looks terrific on you, Scarlett,” Fee said. She entered the shop from the workroom, wearing an adorable bright red bucket hat fashioned out of a quilted flannel material and trimmed with a wide black ribbon.

Viv twirled the yellow felted hat on her finger. “I really thought Scarlett would look adorable in this one.”

Fee looked at the hat and then at Viv. It was clear to see she was struggling with what to say. I gave her the hairy eyeball to make sure she didn’t gang up on me with Viv and try to force me into the hat. There are very few times that I don’t love Viv’s designs but this was one of them and I was not going to wear it.

“Fine, I’ll wear it,” Viv said. “But it’s not nearly as eye-catching with my hair color as it would be with yours.”

“Maybe,” I said. I pointed to my head. “But this one looks amazing on me and I’m keeping it.”

Viv opened her mouth to argue but ...

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Book Description Berkley Books, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The New York Times bestselling author of At the Drop of a Hat returns to her London hat shop with a fresh tale of milliners and murder. For Scarlett Parker, part of the fun of living in London is celebrating the British holidays, and she's excited to share her first Bonfire Night with her cousin Vivian Tremont. Invited to a posh party by their friend Harrison Wentworth, Scarlett and Viv decide to promote their hat shop, Mim's Whims, by donning a few of their more outrageous creations. The hats prove to be quite the conversation starters as the girls mix and mingle with the guests--never suspecting that one of them is a killer. It's a cold, clear night, perfect for the British tradition of tossing a straw stuffed effigy of Guy Fawkes, traitor to the crown, onto the bonfire. But instead of a straw man, they realize in the heat of the moment that the would-be Guy Fawkes is actually Harrison's office rival and he's been murdered. Before the smoke has cleared, Harrison is the Metropolitan police's prime suspect, and Scarlett and Vivian must find the real homicidal hothead before their dear friend's life goes up in flames. Seller Inventory # ABZ9780425279588

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Book Description Berkley Books, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The New York Times bestselling author of At the Drop of a Hat returns to her London hat shop with a fresh tale of milliners and murder. For Scarlett Parker, part of the fun of living in London is celebrating the British holidays, and she's excited to share her first Bonfire Night with her cousin Vivian Tremont. Invited to a posh party by their friend Harrison Wentworth, Scarlett and Viv decide to promote their hat shop, Mim's Whims, by donning a few of their more outrageous creations. The hats prove to be quite the conversation starters as the girls mix and mingle with the guests--never suspecting that one of them is a killer. It's a cold, clear night, perfect for the British tradition of tossing a straw stuffed effigy of Guy Fawkes, traitor to the crown, onto the bonfire. But instead of a straw man, they realize in the heat of the moment that the would-be Guy Fawkes is actually Harrison's office rival and he's been murdered. Before the smoke has cleared, Harrison is the Metropolitan police's prime suspect, and Scarlett and Vivian must find the real homicidal hothead before their dear friend's life goes up in flames. Seller Inventory # BTE9780425279588

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Book Description Berkley Books, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The New York Times bestselling author of At the Drop of a Hat returns to her London hat shop with a fresh tale of milliners and murder. For Scarlett Parker, part of the fun of living in London is celebrating the British holidays, and she's excited to share her first Bonfire Night with her cousin Vivian Tremont. Invited to a posh party by their friend Harrison Wentworth, Scarlett and Viv decide to promote their hat shop, Mim's Whims, by donning a few of their more outrageous creations. The hats prove to be quite the conversation starters as the girls mix and mingle with the guests--never suspecting that one of them is a killer. It's a cold, clear night, perfect for the British tradition of tossing a straw stuffed effigy of Guy Fawkes, traitor to the crown, onto the bonfire. But instead of a straw man, they realize in the heat of the moment that the would-be Guy Fawkes is actually Harrison's office rival and he's been murdered. Before the smoke has cleared, Harrison is the Metropolitan police's prime suspect, and Scarlett and Vivian must find the real homicidal hothead before their dear friend's life goes up in flames. Seller Inventory # ABZ9780425279588

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