5 out of 5 stars.
Assault and Beret by Jenn McKinlay is the fifth and sadly, the final, book in the Hat Shop Mystery series. I’ve loved this series and I’m sorry to see it end. This installment was just as excellent as the previous four have been. I devoured it the first time around and then went back and re-read it and savored it.
London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.
William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception…
Murder, art heists, sociopaths, hat-making, Paris – this book has it all. Add in our already stellar cast of Scarlett, Viv, and Harrison and it gets just that much better! We start the book with just Scarlett and Viv in Paris. Viv’s teaching a hat-making class and Scarlett’s looking for Viv’s estranged husband. After some interesting events happen (no spoilers!), Harrison joins them.
I’ve loved this series from the start and mostly because I love the characters in it! Scarlett, trying to pull herself back together after a dramatic life turn. Viv with her quirky sense of fashion and brilliant hat-making, plus her spontaneous personality. Harrison with his patient, quiet way about him. They’re very well-rounded characters and are so wonderful to read about. The supporting characters are also well-rounded and just delightful.
Our setting was a little different this time since we were in Paris instead of “home” in London where we usually see our hero and heroines. I personally enjoyed the detail that Ms. McKinlay put in her book regarding Paris and getting around in Paris. It helped me visualize what it was like for Scarlett to get from point A to point B with very little knowledge of the French language.
I began to suspect about our villains separately towards the middle of the book, but I totally was not expecting them to be working together. That was a great plot twist I hadn’t seen coming at all.
In the end, everything works out as it should and the series wraps up on a good note. I really wish it wasn’t ending though. I will miss Scarlett, Viv, Harrison, Fiona, Nick, Andre and all the shenanigans they get into!
If you haven’t read the series, I highly suggest starting with the first book in the series, Cloche & Dagger. You’ll understand some of the nuances better if you start at the beginning. Check it out! It’s a wonderful series!