Murder at Morningside

Murder at Morningside - Sandra Bretting 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 Mysteries, Something 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 recommend Murder at Morningside 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!

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.

Originally published on my blog Jane Reads