I'm on a roll with Mystery Monday posts!
I picked up Raiders of the Lost Corset, the fourth Crime of Fashion mystery by Ellen Byerrum, purely for the title, and in total violation of my "read the series in order" rule. The series hadn't really appealed to me, since fashion talk makes my eyes glaze over, but this title made it worth trying. The series focuses on Lacey Smithsonian, fashion reporter for a low-rent newspaper in Washington, D.C. In this installment, Lacey's friend, corsetiere Magda Rousseau, is murdered. In her dying breath, she asks Lacey to look for the treasure she'd sought her whole life--a corset taken from the body of a Romanov princess. Lacey follows some strange clues to try to find the treasure while not getting killed herself. A mysterious bad guy named Kepelov (probably ex-KGB) and a British guy (Nigel) follow Lacey around as she seeks the corset in Paris, then New Orleans. A few personal issues cluttered up the story. Byerrum seems to be juggling two sidekicks, so Lacey goes with lawyer/conspiracy theorist Brooke and her weird boyfriend to Paris, then Brooke disappears and punk hairstylist Stella accompanies Lacey to New Orleans. That was weird to me, and made for a disjointed narrative. Why not stick with one? Or have both come along? I assume if I read the first three books in the series, maybe that will make more sense. The other issue was Lacey's boyfriend, Vic, who I believe is a Colorado cop? I don't know. Anyway, they were broken up, but he shows up in Paris, punches Nigel (whom he knew in prep school, apparently), and he and Lacey are back together. They were a nauseating pair, really, and a whole subplot involving an invitation for Lacey to meet Vic's family at Thanksgiving (and bringing dessert!) goes nowhere, as the book ends before Thanksgiving. So that was a pointless subplot, really. Despite this excess baggage weighing down the narrative, I actually enjoyed the scavenger hunt sort of plot, and the travel to Paris and New Orleans. Lacey's fashion columns were cute and funny. But the ending had a plot "twist" that I had been waiting for the entire book. It was pretty obvious, and I wasn't thrilled with the resolution. A cute mystery with funny parts. I might give the first three books a try sometime.