Strangled by Silk: A Poppy Cove Mystery

Strangled by Silk: A Poppy Cove Mystery - Barbara Jean Coast

Strangled by Silk is a very good read, and a very fun read, set in 1957 in fictional Santa Lucia, California. (1957 also happens to be the year that Leave It To Beaver premiered on TV. I can just imagine June Cleaver shopping at Poppy Cove, before a "date night" with Ward.) Poppy Cove is the dress shop owned by Margot and Daphne, the amateur sleuths of this cozy mystery. In Poppy Cove, customers can select garments "off the rack" in the latest fashions, or they can order a custom-made dress — designed by Margot, sewn on the premises, perhaps by Head Seamstress Marjorie, and accessorized by Daphne.

The characters in Strangled by Silk are well-written, even the "supporting cast," and well-rounded. The "villains" are not totally unlikable. The mystery story line is interesting and believable. The world-building is done well. Santa Lucia is described so meticulously, that it's almost like Barbara Jean Coast is describing her own home town. Barbara Jean does an excellent job describing little details of the era, such as the "new" Swanson TV Dinner — cooked in the oven, mind you; no microwave ovens back then — and all of the foundations that the well-dressed woman wore back then.

As a fun bonus, after Strangled by Silk concludes, there are Barbara Jean's Fabulous Fashion Tips for the Modern 1950's Woman. Here are a few of the highlights: On a picnic, avoid wearing gingham, so as not to look like the tablecloth. Two-piece bathing suits are new and daring (but to be modest, the top should be fully supported, and the bottom skirted). One should wear gloves to any social event, even in the daytime. Ballerina flats are new, and as fashionable as stilettos. For men, Hawaiian print shirts are the new modern casual look, along with Huarache sandals — but make sure he wears them without socks. To look trim and "carefree," the modern girl wears a "simple" combination of brassiere, girdle, garter, slip (full, camisole, half, or crinoline), and stockings — even in the hot California summertime.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Strangled by Silk. I recommend Strangled by Silk to all Cozy Mystery fans, especially to those who are fashion-conscious or are fans of the '50s, and grant it my Five-Star seal of approval.

{Originally published at Jane Reads, along with a Guest Post by the authors}