Iced Chiffon is the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Duffy Brown. The series takes place in Savannah, Georgia, with the theme of "Consignment Shop," and features amateur sleuth Reagan Summerside.
Reagan is working hard to financially recover from an ugly divorce that left her with nearly penniless, with the exception of a bundle of designer clothes and high-end goods. Only 32 years old, Reagan is feeling bitter toward her showy, realtor ex-husband Hollis Beaumont, who left her for his "Cupcake" - a ditzy woman half his age and with an eye on his pocketbook. In an effort to pull her life back together, Reagan turns a portion of her home into a consignment shop.
Shortly into the novel, Hollis' arm-ornament Cupcake is found murdered and stashed into the trunk of his own car. Despite feeling hatred toward her ex-husband, Reagan knows in her heart that Hollis is innocent, and sets out to discover who's framed him for his girlfriend's murder.
Also performing some sleuthing of his own is Reagan's other nemesis, Walker Boone - the sexy street-smart lawyer who incidentally helped Hollis screw Reagan over in the divorce. Reagan's personal goal is to learn the identity of the true murderer before Walker does, but it seems like wherever she goes, the sexy Walker is not too far behind.
Iced Chiffon starts out a bit patchy - the transition from Reagan not knowing how to support herself financially, to the details behind the opening of her consignment store are a bit hazy, and less eventful than you might expect. The introduction to the supporting cast of characters is smoother - especially in regards to Walker Boone, who is actually written perfectly and full of sex appeal. It may be an overly-used, cliche sentiment, but I'll say that the chemistry really does sizzle between Reagan and Walker. I'm excited to see how their dynamic works out in future installments of this series.
The novel picks up significantly about halfway through, and offers a satisfying climax preceded by strategically placed and well thought-out red herrings. Only seasoned mystery readers will have the ability to solve the mystery, and that's a heavy "maybe" at that.
My favorite aspect of Iced Chiffon is the character of Reagan herself - which is a positive indication that Brown's Consignment Shop series will be a success. Reagan's frugality and realism will be familiar to many the reader these days - I loved reading her thoughts and anecdotes throughout the novel.
Iced Chiffon and its successors are most likely going to fulfill my Southern cozy mystery fix, especially since I stopped reading Tamar Myers' Den of Antiquity series (the images of which are displayed at the bottom of this review). Iced Chiffon is much more modern and fun, and replaces Myers' zany and annoying Southern euphemisms with kooky quotes from Cher.
Iced Chiffon is Duffy Brown's first mystery novel; however, she has written numerous romance novels under the name of Dianne Castell. A full list of her romance novels can be found here: Romance Novels by Dianne Castell.
Click on any of the book images below to review them in more detail on Amazon.com.
What are your favorite cozy mystery novels? Do you enjoy any other series that take place in the American South? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!