Laura Bishop has landed the perfect job to jumpstart her new home staging career— an aging mansion that needs to sell fast. But before she can even change a curtain, the body of the owner comes tumbling down the laundry chute. With the police suspecting her assistant, Tyrone, of murder, it’s up to Laura to clear his name.
Some cozies are so well-constructed and satisfying that the obvious craft behind them is almost as entertaining as the book itself. That’s the case with author Grace Topping’s first novel in the Laura Bishop Mystery series. It opens with an explosive scene— the body of Laura’s boss, Victoria, comes hurtling down a laundry chute. It’s both surprising and unique, setting the tone for the careful chain of clues, red herrings, suspects, and sleuthing that Topping follows with.
But all of this would be for nothing if Topping didn’t populate her world with such a compelling heroine. Fortunately, Laura is an intriguing narrator, though a reluctant investigator. However, the pull of knowing Tyrone is innocent and some prodding from his grandmother, Mrs. Webster, leads her to get involved. This keeps Laura grounded, stopping her from making mindless choices. She’s not interfering just to interfere— her sense of loyalty drives her.
Of course, no cozy would be complete without an irresistible cast of secondary characters. Topping does not disappoint in the slightest. Laura’s best friend, Nita, is horoscope obsessed, dishing out cryptic warnings. Mrs. Webster offers up comfort food and a strong spirit. Then there are a couple of handsome men, though Laura has a strict code against trusting good-looking guys. And even Victoria proves a ghastly victim. It’s a well-populated, realistic cast.
Between a solid mystery, engaging characters, and a relatable sleuth, Topping has masterminded a strong start to a new series.
Title: Staging is Murder
Author: Grace Topping
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Classification: Cozy Mystery
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through Edelweiss.