JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)'s Reviews > Royally Dead

Royally Dead by Greta McKennan
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really liked it
bookshelves: cozy, mysteries

Daria Dembrowski is a seamstress who is attending the Highland Games both as a vendor and a spectator when she finds out that her renter Aileen, singer and guitarist for the band Twisted Armpits, seems to know one of the game contestants, Ladd Foster. Their meeting doesn't seem to be a pleasant one, but Daria decides to stay out of the altercation.

The festivities are in high gear and she plans to be part of it, and that includes meeting the author Morris West, who has written a fictional book about Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie and when he meets Daria, envisions her as his heroine from his book named Catherine and continues to call her by that name, to her annoyance. Then Aileen's bandmate Corgi asks Daria if she will fashion a kilt for him, since he's learned to play the bagpipes and wants to enter the competitions - the one he has is a cheap knockoff and will not pass muster and even costs him points in performing.

But during the games Ladd suddenly collapses and falls dead and Daria, with her innate curiosity discovers the source which happens to be the flask he was drinking from during the day. While it seems he left the flask in a tent that was also visited by four others beside herself - including Aileen - she wonders which one hated him enough to kill him. But when the police arrive, the flask has disappeared from the tent, and now finding a killer as well as the weapon of choice could be very difficult indeed.

She's also creating a wedding gown with a tilt to Scotland for a friend, and a young girl named Gillian had an infatuation with Ladd, not to mention the girl's surly attitude could only make it worse; and at the last, she meets an employee of the Templeton museum who offers to let her see the wedding gown and diary of a long-ago resident of their town, Margaret Oliphant, the woman for whom the local college was named. Little does Daria know that once again her curiosity may bring her into mortal danger...

This is the third book in the series, and after reading the first two, I truly believe that Ms. McKennan has found her voice. While I have to be honest and say I wasn't enthralled with the first one, in this book the story line kept me riveted throughout.

While it may seem to some that there are several plot lines going at the same time, they are all (mostly) entwined and watching them come together is indeed a delight. We follow Daria as she innocently tries to complete the wedding dress and create an authentic Scottish kilt while not only participating in the Scottish celebration but watching it as well, while surreptitiously keeping an eye on the young Gillian in an effort to keep her out of harm's way.

Adding to this is the fact that Daria's tenant Aileen is suspected of killing Ladd, although Daria knows it's not possible. Aileen may act tough, but Daria knows there's a soft underbelly that wouldn't kill. So she sets out to look at the other suspects while trying to find out who had the best motive; even involving her maybe-boyfriend Sean McCarty, a newspaper photographer/reporter. (To be fair, he plays along with her willingly in the hopes he'll get a story).

For the most part I was highly entertained; Daria is evolving into a a woman who's coming into her own, who's becoming braver within herself and more circumspect with others, McCarthy is beginning to grow on me and I do love a man with a sense of humor; and while we learned a little more about Aileen's past, it still doesn't explain how she got to where she is today. (From one extreme to another?)

All in all, as I stated above, the plot line was very good and the story was written well. I enjoyed the twists and turns throughout the tale that brought everything together in the end, much like watching a fine tapestry being woven and delighting in the final product. When the killer was discovered (although I figured it out early on - but then again, I read a lot of these) and the reason for the murder revealed, it reminds us that even those that seem the most stable can often be the most insane around us.

Ms. McKennan is indeed learning her craft, and this, as the third book in the series, proves that fact. She has managed to give Daria and Sean life, and make us want to visit the small town of Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania. Her characters are becoming well-rounded and believable; and when I finished this book I realized I was ready for the next in the series and that's a very good thing. Recommended.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 27, 2018 – Shelved
August 27, 2018 – Shelved as: cozy
August 27, 2018 – Shelved as: mysteries

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