The novel begins with Reagan Summerside in a little trouble. “It was a perfect spring night except that my palms were seating, my heart was rocketing around in my chest, I shook so bad it was hard to keep the car on the road, and there were one, two, make that four police cars on my bumper…”
“I declare, girl, how do you keep getting into these messes?” her Aunt KiKi will ask later in the story.
“So are we talking about that fire out at the lumberyard a few months ago, or when that house exploded and I sort of lost my eyebrows, or when I drove into the marsh with the alligators, or…”
At the start of Demise in Denim, Walker Boone is on the lam. He’s been accused of the murder of Conway Adkins who was found murdered in his bathtub in the previously released novella, Dead Man Walker.
Now, Reagan is driving Boone’s truck to lead the cops off his trail. ” ‘You’re not Boone,’ a cop growled”, when Reagan finally pulls over and gets out of the vehicle. That doesn’t mean she’s in any less trouble though. She’s hauled down to the police station to be interrogated.
But at least one cop may be on her side. Aldeen Ross believes Boone’s been framed and advises Reagan, “The best way to find out what’s what is to act like you hate the guy, and that’s going to be real though with that dopey look on your face when you mention his name.”
Ross knows Reagan all too well. Reagan Summerside may be the owner of the Prissy Fox consignment store in Savannah, Georgia, but she’s also a crack amateur sleuth, having solved three prior cases of murder. Her partner in crime solving is her larger-than-life Aunt KiKi.
KiKi, with martini in hand, is there to greet Reagan’s return from the police station. Reagan notes the three olives in her glass to which her aunt replies, “Honey, from what I’ve seen it’s a three-olive night.” But this Southern lady is sharp on the ball and already realizes present circumstances are connected to “Conway deader than a mackerel in his own bathtub with a bullet between his beady little eyes.”
Then Tucker Adkins breaks into Reagan’s place looking for Boone. He’s convinced Boone killed his father, but this Daddy’s little rich kid may be a likelier suspect.
After fielding paparazzi reporters’ questions in Chapter Two, Reagan picks up KiKi to sit down and plan a course of action. But not before heading to the local doughnut shop for some sugary fortification. Unfortunately, GracieAnn doesn’t take too kindly to Reagan’s presence in her shop.
“Detective Ross said I had to act like I was anti-Boone so the suspects wouldn’t clam up when I started snooping around,” Reagan tells her aunt.
KiKi wisely points out that that very stance has alienated the pro-Boone camp, GracieAnn included.
Later when Reagan and KiKi go to Boone’s house, they learn that the killer–or someone–is still actively trying to incriminate Boone. The duo find a photograph of Conway that gives weight to a motive circulating as to why Boone would have done it. Reagan notes, “I’d say it’s another piece of the let’s frame Walker Boone for murder puzzle.”
Boone turns up unexpectedly here, and let’s just say things are starting to heat up between these two.
The mystery plot kicks up a notch when Reagan drops by the Plantation Club before heading over to Conway’s funeral. “It was indeed a perfect Savannah funeral.” And everyone’s there.
As for suspects…
There are “the clones”, Anna and Bella, gold-digging sisters, who pop into Regan’s shop with questions about consigning men’s clothing. Neither’s elderly husband is dead yet, but they want “to be prepared for these things if they should come.” Turns out their angry at Boone for interfering in their affairs by trying to get their husbands to change their wills. But would they really kill Conway Adkins to frame Boone?
There’s Mason Dixon, the VP over at the Plantation Club, who may have owed Conway money and coveted Conway’s presidency of said club. Steffy Lou Adkins, Conway’s seemingly bereaved daughter-in-law, and of course, the aforementioned son, Tucker, who was mighty jealous of Boone. And then there’s some new guy in town, Grayden Russell, hanging around the Plantation Club. Russell has his eye on developing the land the historic Tybee Theater sits on, and Conway may have been in the way of that goal.
As for how someone would get a hold of Boone’s gun (used in the crime), “the fact that Mr. Walker keeps a .38 in his desk drawer is legendary.” Something Reagan may have had a hand in announcing to the world.
Reagan’s misadventures in sleuthing continue with quirky characters and humorous dialogue running at full steam. If Reagan isn’t putting herself or her aunt in danger, she tends to get a big ole target on her back by inadvertently antagonizing the suspects in her hunt for the truth. Something that’s turned quite upside down when some else unexpectedly turns up dead late in the game.
Demise in Denim will certainly keep you guessing right up to the end. And the last lines will be the start of a whole new chapter in Reagan’s life.
This fifth entry in the Consignment Shop Mystery series is a direct continuation of the previous novella, Dead Man Walker. It isn’t necessary to read Dead Man Walker to enjoy the present story, but the novella will fill in some background about the suspects and, as an added bonus, is narrated by Boone himself.
Demise in Denim, available in paperback, is available today (April 7, 2015). It’s a real hoot, as is the series, which will likely to appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.