Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper

First Sentence:  The sea-foam green bridesmaids’ dresses had been a mistake.
Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna tries to prepare for all contingencies.  Having a bridesmaid die, and the mother-of-the-bride insist she “do something” about freeing the person arrested, is a bit out of her usual realm.  Since the local police won’t let them leave the country, and are convinced they have the killer, it is up to Kelsey and her friend, Brody, to find the evidence and identify the actual killer.
One knows one has found a good book when the intention is to read only the first few pages, and four hours later you’ve closed the back cover.  This is just such a book.  Cooper starts the story at the beginning, without a prologue, and takes us immediately into, and through, an absolutely wonderful story.  However, if one has ever thought being a wedding planner would be a glamorous job, Cooper quickly destroys that illusion.    
Cooper has created a very real set of characters, both primary and secondary.  Kelsey is smart, independent, and very capable.  Brody is a perfect sidekick and ideal friend; equally capable and bright, as well as loyal and discreet.  The bride and groom, hotel cook, Kelsey’s occasional love interest Evan, and even the classically annoying Mrs. Abernathy is perfectly drawn and very believable. 
Cooper has a wonderful voice.   Both in dialogue—“What kind of poison?”  Evan held his hands up in the air.  “He didn’t know.  Does it even matter?”  “Yes! I mean, how do they know if it even is poison?  It’s not like they tasted it!”  Okay, so not exactly a great rationale, but it was all I had at the moment”—and the internal narrative--“Maybe I should have been a funeral planner instead.  Your responsibilities are finite, the expectations aren’t as high, and no one’s going to be happy anyway.  …Besides, business seemed to be booming.”—are realistic, and often chuckle-worthy.
This is a book anyone can enjoy.  It contains neither sex nor graphic violence, yet it isn’t silly.  The characters behave in realistic ways, without a single TSTL (too stupid to live) moment.  It really is more of a traditional mystery than a cozy, even with an amateur investigator.  The writing is excellent:  neither a vapid character nor a portent in sight.

Terrorin Taffeta” is a very well done, delightful read.  It is very well plotted with excellent plot twists that keep you guessing to the very end.

TERROR IN TAFFETA (Cozy-Kelsey McKenna-Mexico-Contemp) – Ex
      Cooper, Marla – 1st book
      Minotaur Books, 2016

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