First Line: The clock would strike midnight in two minutes.
It's time for San Ladrón's annual Miss Tangorli beauty pageant, and Poly Monroe has agreed to use her shop's inventory of fabrics to create gowns fit for a queen. Just days before the event, the entire town is thrown for a loop when the pageant creator, millionaire Harvey Halliwell, is found dead.
Things seem to be turning ugly in town, especially when Poly's friend, mechanic Charlie Brooks, is caught up in the crime simply for having been seen in the prime suspect's company. Poly can't sit idly by, no sirree. Now she's on a mission to find out the truth.
Diane Vallere's Material Witness cozy series continues to be one of my very favorites, due in part to Poly's ability to look at a bolt of fabric, find divine inspiration, and then whip up something fabulous. Poly is also strong, intelligent, funny, and kind, and she needs all the help she can get from her friends since her relationship with Vaughan isn't working out. (What can I say? Their backgrounds are just too dissimilar. Aren't they?)
As Poly tries to solve the crime, she learns even more about her friends and other residents there in San Ladrón-- especially the fact that several of them seem to have hidden agendas.
Vallere has a good cast of characters as well as a good mystery, but there's always something more. This time readers get an inside look at beauty pageants; at how divisive they usually are, and what they really could be with some know-how and determination from the right people. Also... remember how I told you that Poly is incredibly talented at the bolt-of-cloth-to-brilliant-designer-outfit thing? She's also great at thinking up great ideas for drumming up business-- especially in tandem with other business owners.
Poly not only has an excellent head for solving mysteries, she's got a good head for business and for friendship, and that's why I'll keep coming back to her shop Material Girl over and over again.
Silk Stalkings by Diane Vallere
Berkley Prime Crime © 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Cozy Mystery, #3 Material Witness mystery
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.