Laura Bishop is back with yet another interesting mystery! As the title suggests, this time, Laura is literally at war. At war with facing her emotions; torn between helping her arch-enemy Monica and saving her staging business. Phew!
The story starts with Nita (Laura’s best friend) finding a dead body in a funeral home. Okay, nothing surprising about it, right? I mean, it is a funeral home so isn’t it obvious that one would find a dead body in it? Well, the dead body that Nita found had a knife stuck to its back. Ouch! Now that sounds like a murder. MURDER!
The dead man is identified as Ian Becker. The chap was last seen in the town twenty years ago. His aunt passed away recently and he had come over to settle the will. Meanwhile, Laura’s aunt Kit is coming over for a visit. Laura had a tough time as a child to a single mother and she’s afraid that her mother’s sister is no different.
An art exhibition is in town and Laura, Mrs Webster, Nita and Aunt Kit pay a visit. They see Monica Heller, Laura’s nemesis, with a renowned artist Damian Reynolds. The same evening, Damian is found stabbed to death – a knife in his back. As Laura and Nita reach his place to return something they see Monica with a bloody knife in her hand, standing next to Damian’s dead body.
Monica is arrested for the murder of Damian Reynolds. Sister Madeline believes Monica is innocent and asks Laura to help Monica. Oh my gosh! Is Laura supposed to help her arch-enemy??? Monica tried to steal Laura’s staging business and possibly had an affair with Laura’s late husband. And now, Laura must prove Monica’s innocence in the Damian murder case. That too when Laura saw Monica with a bloody knife. Hmm!
Staging Wars is a perfect mystery. When I say perfect, I mean this: – Excellent story development, wonderful character portrayal, twists you never see coming and a mind-blowing ending. (I cannot stop thinking about this particular scene – “finding a way through the chutes”.)
It was wonderful to see Laura grow up as a person throughout the story. First, she has to face her arch-enemy, then, help her arch-enemy with the business when she’s ‘basking’ in the jail, and finally bury the hatchet. All this when there’s aunt Kit lurking at home! As the story ends, we get to see a new Laura – she and Detective Spangler are now on friendly terms; there’s a change in Aunt Kit’s behavior too. Wowwy!
From finding a dead body in a funeral home to the dead artist and something sinister behind the two murders, Staging Wars is sure to keep one hooked on until the end. Laura’s amateur sleuthing skills are appreciable; the killer tries to warn her once or twice but curiosity gets the better of Laura and she will not stop until she finds the killer. All this when Detective Spangler’s repeatedly asked her not to interfere in police matters. Hum!
The ending is excellent, and a tad hilarious – given the ‘situation’ Nita and Laura are in. Grace Topping is a master storyteller. I really love her writing style. The elements of suspense, tension and a tinge of humor makes Staging Wars a must-read cozy mystery of 2020. I have read and liked the first book in this series – Staging is Murder. I highly recommend Laura Bishop mysteries.
There’s a giveaway for this tour: you could win a print copy of Staging Wars (US only), Giveaway details are here.
Writing Style: 5/5
Character Development: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Title: Staging Wars
Author: Grace Topping
Published on: April 28th 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Many thanks to Lori for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this blog tour. Thank you Henery Press for the ARC.