My thanks go out to Sarah, representing publisher Bookouture, for saving me a place on this lovely ‘Books On Tour’ schedule.
I also need to thank the great NetGalley team, for always making life so easy when downloading review copies.
THE MUSEUM MURDER – (Epiphany Bloom #2)
Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom, would-be detective and London’s unluckiest woman, finds herself in a real costume drama when she unearths a theft at a fashion museum.
The missing dress is a proper piece of Hollywood history, worth a fortune. And as Pip investigates, she finds the museum staff all had reasons to want the garment gone.
From fancy boutiques to sketchy back alleys, Pip discovers the fashion world is not all glitz and glamour as she hunts down her prize.
As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate, Pip also has her growing feelings for her housemate Tim to contend with, a family of cats to feed and her mother keeps phoning about a shipment of llamas arriving any day now from South America.
But there’s no time for distractions because Pip’s not the only one after the dress. And for the most dedicated collectors, a piece like this is worth any price – even murder…
Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel.
Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre, with ‘Epiphany (Pip) Bloom’
Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats.
Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet.
Connect with Katie Gayle on Facebook
Follow Katie Gayle on Twitter
“At least she had the kittens. It was hard to feel down with three fluffy balls of squeaking cuteness staggering around like little drunks. Pip sat down on the floor, scooped them up and bundled them against her chest. ‘Group hug!’ she told them as they squirmed and mewed in outrage. She released them onto the carpet and arranged them in colour order, lining them up from darkest to lightest, and took a quick picture in the nanosecond before they started to disperse. Fully awake now, the kittens headed for their mum, nuzzling into her, looking for supper. The purring from Most was loud enough to be heard across the room”
“Arabella clearly had no idea how to interview a prospective employee. Pip had been to lots of interviews, and she knew that the clueless interviewers were the worst. Although in fairness, they were also the most likely to give her a job”
“In Pip’s experience, nobody was above gossip; some people were just excluded”
“Don’t you worry about Epiphany, she’s a good girl. Yes, she makes a lot of mistakes, very many indeed, and yes, there have been many, many disappointments and disasters, but at the end of the day, her many failures add up to a good girl”
“The words struck ice into Pip’s heart. No! No little things, she wanted to shout. Little things are where it all unravels. Little things are where it all goes pear-shaped! Do not come here with your little things! Pip’s life was a long list of disasters that had started with ‘one little thing.'”
“People’s ability to delude themselves never failed to amaze her”
“Dastardly deeds, daring deceptions and a dress to die for”
Wow! I need to get my breath back after that maelstrom, high-speed mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems. A lie down in a darkened room is also definitely required to recover from the whirlwind that is amateur sleuth Epiphany Bloom, a real force of nature by anyone’s standards!
The action kicks in right from the first couple of pages, the storyline moves along at a break-neck pace, towards a conclusion which is satisfyingly replete in every sense of the word!
At first I was a little disappointed the authors hadn’t used locations which were real and tangible, somewhere I could check out for myself and plot the course of this break-neck journey, as it unfolded, or maybe that should be, unravelled around me! But on reflection after closing the pages on ‘Pip’s’ latest unsolicited foray into the shady world of the part-time PI, I realise that amount of detailed research just wouldn’t have worked anyway, as I had simply found myself suspending belief in almost all realism, as one little disaster led to another, each one more dangerous and deadly than the last.
I didn’t even bother with a suspect list, as Pip already had one a mile long, with just about everyone’s name on it. One by one, and with the enthusiastic help of a tame hacker who hangs on her every word and a boxing coach who fancies his chances with both her and the gee-gee’s, the potential candidates for ‘bad guy’ were whittled down and Pip and the team set to finessing their plan of action for the final showdown, working on the basis that it ‘takes a thief to catch a thief’, although with Pip’s reputation, life was never going to be that simple. When the suspect is finally cornered and apprehended, it is more by good luck than better judgement, after Pip’s plan goes completely off the rails and leaves three totally unprepared females and a man whose excuses for arriving late defy all logic, to explain the situation to the authorities.
This entertaining story, well constructed and written with real heart and humour, was broken up into short concise chapters, which only served to increase the pace and intensity of the plot, whilst managing to seamlessly compartmentalise and constrain some of Pip’s natural tendencies to go off at a tangent. The assured and visually descriptive writing made it an easy story escape and relax into, although there were plenty of ‘whatever next!’ and ‘look out!’ moments, as red herrings were spread so liberally that they became a real trip hazard for this unsuspecting team of not so reluctant deputised investigative assistants. In fact they all seemed to be relishing in the excitement of the moment a bit too much and were getting quite carried away with it all, forgetting that a determined and professional thief, is potentially a force to be reckoned with.
There was a delicious cast of addictive, compellingly relatable characters, none of which were too difficult to get under the skin of and become completely invested in, even though many of them were very high maintenance, to say the least. Coming into this series as I did, with book #2, I don’t think I was in any way short-changed from not knowing Pip’s backstory, as there were so many references to certain events from her past, liberally sprinkled throughout the text, making for some real laugh-out-loud moments, as she seems to have had more jobs than hot dinners, and none of them what you might call conventional. Also, she is just such a transparent character, that you know exactly where you stand with her, as what you see is very much what you get and quite often you’ll end up with the veritable ‘bull in the china shop’! From comments made, it would appear that Pip is well into her 30s, although you might have assumed her to be much younger, as she comes across as quite immature, maybe a little vulnerable and not particularly reliable, although she doesn’t suffer fools gladly and generally says it exactly like it is, offend or please. She would be a great friend to have for a ‘girlie’ chat or a night on the town, but I don’t think I would trust her with so much as a pet mouse when it comes to common sense or concentration.
Oh Yes! and no cozy mystery would be complete without a suitably quirky, accompanying side show. With Pip’s reputation for being totally off-the-wall, even this had to be something unique and unconventional. This little menagerie definitely went from the sublime to the ridiculous, so be prepared for a cat-nabbed feline, a trio of adorable kitties, a ‘six pack’ of llamas and a finale ‘walk-on’ part to outdo all others! – I kid you not!
A complimentary download of this book for review purposes, was made available by Bookouture and supplied by NetGalley
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!
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