Staging is Murder
(A Laura Bishop Mystery)
by Grace Topping
About the Book
Staging is Murder (A Laura Bishop Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Henery Press (April 30, 2019)
Hardcover: 268 pages
Paperback: 268 pages
Digital ASIN: B07N96J65X
Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, replacing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.
To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.
Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.
Grace Topping starts this book/series out with a big thump. While curbing the clutter in the huge 19th-century mansion, her protagonist Laura Bishop heads to the cellar with a box only to have her client’s body fall from the laundry chute right at her feet. Victoria Denton was difficult but who would have done such a thing?
The police decide Laura’s assistant, Tyrone is their prime suspect. He accidentally broke a vase sending Ms. Denton into a tizzy. She also is on the committee holding Tyrone’s fate in her hands as he waits to hear if he will be awarded a college scholarship. The woman threatened to basically blackball him everywhere and police assume he retaliated. Laura defends the young man but when his grandmother begs for her help she knows she has to do more. Detective Alex Spangler thinks he has his man so Laura grabs her friend Nita Marino and tries to use all the knowledge she has gleaned from reading cozy mysteries to start investigating.
There are such strong characters in this debut. Laura Bishop has left her IT career behind and opened her own business staging homes to help home sellers get the best price and the quickest sale of their homes. She is also new to investigating and admits it which was a big plus for me. She is a very kind person and for the most part, makes really good decisions. Her best friend Nita is the Watson to Laura’s Holmes and they make a good team. The character I liked best was Tyrone. He’s a college student studying design and clearly has talent. He is a hard worker. He has 3 jobs earning money both for school and to help his grandmother. He has such a positive attitude even when things are going wrong. Even behind bars, he was a breath of fresh air. I also loved meeting Inky, Laura’s rescue kitty.
The story flowed well for me. There are several suspects and some great twists. Tossing the victim down the laundry chute was a bit eerie. I love big old homes that have them. My aunt had one in her newer home but the opening was nowhere near large enough to stuff a body through. I enjoyed following along with Laura and her investigation while she continued to work on the mansion to get it ready for an open house. The mansion needed a lot of help and I was surprised by all Laura did with the help of so few people. The author found a nice balance between solving the mystery and everyday life. Humor was also incorporated in a very thoughtful way.
Each chapter starts with a staging tip and the staging theme was super interesting to me. Not that I’ll ever need to stage a home, but several tips made sense to brighten up the home I have.
This series is off to a great start. The characters have plenty of room to grow. The theme provides endless possibilities. I am really looking forward to book #2.
About the Author
Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.
The writing flows smoothly in this well-paced story and the characters are well drawn. . . .There’s plenty of suspects and red herrings, and the murderer’s identity wasn’t easy to solve.
~The Power of Words
Staging is Murder was a fun and exciting mystery that was a sheer delight for this reader.
Wow! The planning and misdirections in this first book remind me of the Golden Age murder/mystery writers!
~A Wytch’s Book Review Blog
STAGING IS MURDER sets the stage for a solid mystery series. There’s an interesting plot and engaging characters, with just enough zaniness to promote laughs, but keep things real.
~Cozy Up With Kathy
Staging is Murder by Grace Topping is a fun mystery with a reluctant amateur detective. This book is a wonderful start to a new series. I can’t wait to see what Laura and Nita get into next.
~Baroness’ Book Trove
Staging is Murder has a friendly protagonist, a charming town, witty commentary, good friends, a frisky feline, a client who has gone to meet her maker, and one cunning killer.
~The Avid Reader
April 25 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
April 25 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
April 26 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
April 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
April 27 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
April 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 28 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
April 29 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
May 6 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
May 6 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT
May 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 8 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
May 8 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
May 9 – Carole’s Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT
May 10 – Teresa Trent Author Site – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 11 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
May 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 12 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST
May 13 – That’s What She’s Reading – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”