Title: Staging is Murder (A Laura Bishop Mystery #1)
Author: Grace Topping
Publication Date: 30 April 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Staging is Murder is the first book in Grace Topping’s Laura Bishop Mystery series.
Laura Bishop has just landed her first decorating commission – staging a 19th-century mansion. The owner of the mansion, Victoria, is known for her acidic tongue. Tyrone Webster, Laura’s assistant, gets into trouble when he accidentally drops Victoria’s prized possession. Victoria asks him to leave the house. Laura continues to work as she had deadlines to meet. When she’s working in the basement, she hears the door open and close. Soon after, Victoria comes tumbling down the laundry chute.
Tyrone is arrested for Victoria’s murder. But Laura is sure that her assistant is innocent. Tyrone’s grandmother requests Laura to solve the case and prove that her grandson is innocent. As Laura digs further into Victoria’s past, someone starts to threaten her, asking her to stop digging or else…
I am really amazed at the number of themes a cozy mystery can be written in. I was under the impression that all cozies include some form of cooking or baking. But as I read more cozies, I realized that a cozy mystery doesn’t always have to involve cooking or baking. Ok, let’s move on to the topic of discussion.
Staging is Murder by Grace Topping is one of the best cozy mysteries that I have read. Be it the writing, character development, plot development or the mystery behind the murder, Grace Topping has done an amazing job in keeping her readers hooked on to the story till the end.
The first thing I noticed about the book was the writing. Laura is the narrator of the story and one gets to read tidbits of her past – her ill mother, her non-existent father and cheating husband. Though she’s an excellent narrator, the same cannot be said about her investigation skills. Don’t get me wrong here, in the end, she discovers something so vital to the case and it almost puts her life in danger – remember, she’s also being threatened by who is most probably the killer. But it is not until the latter part of the second half that Laura found vital clues that lead her to the killer.
Each story is unique in its own way, isn’t it? I really loved Laura’s role in the story. Of course, being the narrator and the main character, it does make sense that the spotlight is on her. But given her troubled childhood, she’s found a loving and caring friend in Nita. Nita’s family has almost adopted Laura as their own – the Sunday dinners which Laura absolutely loved to go to. Laura’s been through a lot in life – cheating husband (now dead)and an overprotective mother (now dead). Laura must have gone through a tough time in life but through all these curveballs that life threw at her, there was this one person who never left Laura and that is Nita.
No cozy is complete without a quirky character(s). Madam Zolta, the psychic medium who shoos away evil spirits, Nita the horoscope obsessed friend and sister Madeline, the nun who loves detective novels. Speaking of detective novels, I really liked the references that Laura makes to the various detective novels that she’d read as a child. Also, a couple of mentions of NCIS – which also happens to be one of my favourite TV shows. 😀
Coming to the mystery behind the murder and the identity of the killer, it is not until later in the story that Laura actually comes across some incriminating evidence. I really didn’t mind that more than half of the story concentrated on the threats that Laura got while investigating. In fact, with these threats, Laura’s curiosity grows stronger. She’s now very much convinced there was some dark secret that got Victoria killed.
Will Parker’s role is something to look out for in this book. Though he was initially the flirty old man, he gets into trouble and Laura feels guilty about it. Laura finds Detective Spangler and Doug Hamilton irresistible. A little bit of school-girl crush made the story a tad cute!
Staging for Murder by Grace Topping was an engaging, entertaining and engrossing cozy mystery. I am looking forward to reading more of Laura Bishop’s adventures. Also, before I forget, each chapter starts with a staging tip. I really liked this inclusion to the story – a very witty inclusion this. If you are looking for a unique and entertaining cozy read, then do not miss to check out this book.
There’s a giveaway for this tour. If you like to win a print (US only) or Kindle(worldwide) copy of Grace Topping’s Staging is Murder, then please do participate in the giveaway.
Giveaway details here.
Thank you, Lori, from Escape with Dollycas for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this blog tour.