Masking for Trouble (Costume Shop Mystery Series #2)

Masking for Trouble (Costume Shop Mystery Series #2)

by Diane Vallere

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Masking for Trouble (Costume Shop Mystery Series #2) by Diane Vallere

Halloween brings more tricks than treats for costume shop owner Margo Tamblyn in the second in a new cozy series from the national bestselling author of the Material Witness Mysteries.
Halloween conjures up big business for Margo Tamblyn’s costume shop, Disguise DeLimit, but this year, the holiday comes knocking with serious trouble. Venture capitalist Paul Haverford plans to rezone historic downtown into a glitzy commercial area which would push out local business. Margo is set on saving her family’s store, especially after a nasty run-in with the chain-store tycoon, but after Haverford’s body is discovered during a spooky party at the derelict Alexandria Hotel, Margo finds herself dressed as the police’s prime suspect.
Anxious to clear her name, Margo begins hunting down anyone who might have wanted Haverford dead. Between all of his malicious maneuverings, the murdered mogul had buckets of people anxious to see him gone. Now, Margo will have to use every trick in the book to find a cloaked killer—before someone else winds up wearing a death shroud...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425278291
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Series: Costume Shop Mystery Series , #2
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 464,389
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Diane Vallere is the national bestselling author of the Lefty-nominated Material Witness Mysteries, which include Silk Stalkings, Crushed Velvet and Suede to Rest, and the Costume Shop Mysteries, which began with A Disguise to Die For. She is the daughter of a seamstress and a scientist, which makes her feel like the love child of Edith Head and Mr. Spock. After twenty years in the fashion industry, she now writes full time, trading fashion accessories for accessories to murder. She launched her own detective agency at ten years old and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


The last time I was this close to an angry lab rat had been high school. That time, I'd understood the rat's anger. He'd been forced to live in close quarters with four others, and having once shared an apartment with four girls myself, I recognized the universal crankiness that comes from the invasion of personal space.

Today, the angry lab rat in front of me had a different reason to be upset. I'd just accidentally jabbed him in the head with a fistful of pipe cleaners.

"Hold still," I said. "If I don't get these pipe cleaners in at the right angle, the ears will never stand up." The lab rat mumbled something unintelligible. "You have to stop talking! I can't understand you."

The rat reached his arms-two furry white appendages that ended in pink oven mitts-up and lifted the carefully crafted mask from his head. "You're going to have to put more ventilation in there," Kirby said. "I could barely breathe."

Kirby Grizwitz was a part-time employee of Disguise DeLimit, my family's costume shop. After my dad's heart attack six months ago, Kirby's hours had become more regular, filling in his spare time between swim team practices. Usually his job responsibilities included keeping the racks straight, handling rentals, and cataloging new inventory, but October was to our costume shop what April was to tax accountants, and our individual job responsibilities flexed to fit the needs of the business. Our whole town of Proper City went a little crazy around Halloween, and somewhere in the eighties the Proper City High School had adjusted their curriculum to include a weeklong break. Aside from Kirby's committment to the swim team, his days were available and he picked up extra hours at the store to help out.

Today's need was to put the finishing touches on a giant lab rat costume for Kirby's chemistry teacher. He'd allowed-the teacher, not Kirby-his honors class to choose his costume for this year's Halloween, and they'd decided to go ironic. Enter Disguise DeLimit.

"More ventilation. I can do that. But look, the ears are perfect." I took the head from Kirby and turned it around so it faced him. He seemed unimpressed. The chimes over the front door rang, and Ebony Welles walked in. I quickly pulled the rat head over my jet-black hair and stepped behind the register.

Ebony was a strong, black sixty-year-old woman in a 1970s wardrobe. She had a brushed-out afro, a collection of bell-bottoms to rival J. J. Walker, and a white bichon frise named Ivory. I'd never known my own mother because she died in childbirth, but Ebony was like a mom to me-having stepped into the surrogate role sometime around when I was five. She and my dad had never been more than friends, though they often acted like an old married couple, especially when it came to raising me. Somewhere along the last five years, her concerns had shifted from convincing my dad to raise my allowance to helping me find a nice single man and settle down.

Ebony had enough superstitions to challenge the most powerful rabbit's foot, and this time of year, she preferred not to venture far from Shindig, her party planning business. When she did, she added what we called her October Accessories: garlic necklace, silver bullet earrings, and a rubber mallet that no one could explain except that it might help her destroy zombie brains.

I watched her scan the interior of the store. When her eyes alighted on me, I stood straight up. She pointed a shiny black talon at me. "See, that right there is what's wrong with this holiday. There ain't no good reason for a giant lab rat to be running around our city."

I dropped down behind the counter, knocking a tray of vampire teeth into a plastic tub filled with foam clown noses. The tub spilled and round foam balls rolled across the floor. The mask shifted so I could no longer see, and, even more than before, I had trouble breathing.

As it turned out, Kirby was right. The mask needed more ventilation.

Muffled sounds from the costume shop blended in with indiscernible noises around me. I put my hands on the head and lined up the mesh that I'd inserted for vision and watched a group of teenage boys flip through a rack of motorcycle jackets.

"She's coming this way," Kirby warned.

I put my hands on the back of the counter and pulled myself up enough to peek over the top. Sure enough, Ebony was steps away from where I crouched.

"It's no use, Margo. I know it's you."

Slowly I stood and pulled the rat head off. From the corner of my eyes I could see my hair defy gravity thanks to static electricity. I set the head on the counter and smoothed the ends of my flip with my fingers.

"It doesn't matter. I was just trying it on to show Kirby that the ears were straight. That's not my costume for tonight."

"I certainly hope not. No way you're going to meet a man dressed as a giant rat."

"What about you? What are you wearing tonight?"

"Ebony doesn't need a costume. You know why? Ebony is going to be safely locked away inside of her house." When she was worked up, she liked to refer to herself in the third person. The idea of spending time at an old, rundown hotel that she not-so-secretly believed was haunted definitely got her worked up.

"Best costume has come from Disguise DeLimit for the past twelve years. You don't want to help our odds? We're not about to let it fall into the hands of an amateur," I said.

"You'll win. You always do." She looked down at the rat head and tugged on the pointy, blood-tipped teeth that jutted out from under the nose. "He is kinda cute," she said. She adjusted his blood-tipped fangs, smiled, and left.

Kirby pulled the pink mitts off of his hands and threw them down on the floor next to me. "I thought she'd never leave. That garlic was making me hungry for pizza." He reached around behind him until he found the ties that kept the rat suit closed in the back, undid them, and shrugged out of the body of the costume. It fell to the floor in a mound of shaggy white fur, and Kirby was left wearing his Proper City Prawns swim team T-shirt and jeans. He kicked the costume to the side by the plastic tub of colorful clown noses and stormed away.

Halloween was a week away, but tonight was the big kickoff costume party at the long-vacant Alexandria Hotel. The tall brick building had been abandoned decades ago and was sorely in need of some TLC. A wealthy developer purchased it but had agreed to allow the residents of Proper City to hold our annual party inside. Ebony had turned down the job of converting the interior into a suitably haunted but not dangerous reception hall. Something about not wanting to stir up the ghosts and goblins who had taken to the hotel after it had been boarded up. Candy Girls, the tacky ready-made costume/theme party supplier-who, much to our chagrin, occasionally gave both Ebony and Disguise DeLimit a run for our money-had ended up with the job.

The annual kickoff party was a special, private celebration for those of us involved in the planning of the Proper City Halloween festivities. It started at six so even the youngsters of the participating familes could go and was the first chance people had to show off their costumes for the Halloween season. Ebony might have planned to stay away, but not me. In a couple of hours, I'd be in my own costume, meeting up with a friend in the parking lot, ready to see how everything turned out.

The cowbell over the door chimed and I looked up. A fiftyish man in a black business suit walked in. His shirt and tie were impeccable, and his briefcase was practically brand new. His white hair was parted on the side and smoothed into place, and contrasted sharply with the black frames on his glasses. I came out from behind the counter and met him halfway in the store.

"Nice costume," I said. "Government agent? We carry clip-on IDs if you'd like to accessorize."

He looked down at his suit and then up at me, confused. "I'm looking for Jerry Tamblyn, owner of Disguise DeLimit. Is he here?"

"No, he's not. I'm Margo Tamblyn, his daughter. I run the store these days. Can I help you with something?"

The man's expression told me he wasn't here to rent a costume. He reached down to a bookcase filled with brightly colored clown feet and pushed the feet to the side, knocking a few pair onto the floor. I scooped to pick them up. He set his briefcase on the top, popped open the locks, and pulled out a white envelope.

I glanced around the store. Kirby was busy with the teenagers by the rack of black leather jackets. One of the girls held a pink satin jacket with pink ladies embroidered on the back. Two teenage girls held up shapeless red and white striped all-in-one jumpsuits that we rented with blue wigs. Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat. Always a good choice.

"If you're selling something, I'm not interested," I said. "We're pretty busy right now, so I can't spare any more time."

"I'll only take a moment of your time. I've tried at length to contact you by mail. I can only assume from your lack of response and your continued focus on renting costumes that you've chosen to ignore the issue."

"What issue?"

"The issue of Halloween. As you know, this year's festivities are scheduled to take place at the Alexandria Hotel in West Proper."

"I know all that. What's the problem?"

"The problem is that I now own the Alexandria Hotel, and I've restricted access to the party to those in my employ." His mouth pulled into a line that must be what passed for his smile. "Read the letter inside. The situation is self-explanatory." He checked his watch again, and then closed up his briefcase and lifted it from the now empty shelf. "Good day, Ms. Tamblyn," he said. He turned and left without waiting for me to look inside the envelope.

Kirby joined me. "What was that all about? Government agent needs Jerry's testimony about some aliens?"

"No. That man said he bought the Alexandria Hotel. He said now that it's under private ownership, we're being banned from entering a costume in the contest!"

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Masking for Trouble 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
momelaine More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this series. Margo is certainly a unique character. She grew up in a costume shop so she thinks nothing of dressing in costume every day. Halloween is a very busy time for her shop but she gets help from the swim team. The costume ideas for the team are pretty interesting. Of course, clearing her name after finding a body of someone she was seen arguing with is the real story here. Detective Nichols is all too eager to find Margo guilty. So Margo has her work cut out for her. I definitely recommend this series to all cozy lovers.
LolaReviews More than 1 year ago
This is a fun cozy mystery set around Halloween. I really enjoyed the focus on the costumes, the costume shop and the Halloween touches. Main character Margo is fun to read about with how she is a bit quirky and dresses in costume, I also liked how it felt pretty natural how she got involved in the mystery. Sadly the mystery didn't quite work for me, I felt like the mystery didn't progress forward a lot, until the end. I hadn't figured out who the murderer was, so that was good. But it felt like there weren't enough hints to point to this person, so that felt a bit off. I didn't care for the romance in this book. I really liked Tak and Margo in book 1, but this book was full with miscommunication, lack of communication and secrets. I do hope the romance will be better in book 3 as most of it got resolved by the end of the book. All in all it was a fun Halloween themed read.
LolaReviews More than 1 year ago
This is a fun cozy mystery set around Halloween. I really enjoyed the focus on the costumes, the costume shop and the Halloween touches. Main character Margo is fun to read about with how she is a bit quirky and dresses in costume, I also liked how it felt pretty natural how she got involved in the mystery. Sadly the mystery didn't quite work for me, I felt like the mystery didn't progress forward a lot, until the end. I hadn't figured out who the murderer was, so that was good. But it felt like there weren't enough hints to point to this person, so that felt a bit off. I didn't care for the romance in this book. I really liked Tak and Margo in book 1, but this book was full with miscommunication, lack of communication and secrets. I do hope the romance will be better in book 3 as most of it got resolved by the end of the book. All in all it was a fun Halloween themed read.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts Halloween in Proper City, Nevada is a huge deal. It is a week long event all leading up to a big party. This year Proper City has its own version of the Grim Reaper. Paul Haverford has come to town and has been buying up land, homes and businesses all to put his grand plan in motion to kill all of the downtown shops. He wants everything rezoned so he can bring in chain stories, restaurants and gambling. Something the founder of the town and most of the current residents are against. Margo becomes involved when she learns Haverford is buying the Alexandria Hotel that has been uninhabited for years and the place where the Halloween festivities are scheduled to take place. He also informs her that the costumes from Disguise DeLimit are not allowed in the costume contest. This could majorly affect her bottom line. She doesn’t allow this man to ruin her plans to attend the first night party. She shows up the Alexandria Hotel in costume, but she should have stayed home. She is the one that finds Haverford’s dead body and becomes the prime suspect in his murder. We were introduced to Margo, her dad, her cat, Soot, Ebony and her dog Ivory, Tak Hoshiyama, Bobbie Kay and Kirby in A Disguise To Die For. They are all back in this story and I grew to love them even more. Margo always makes me smile with her daily attire. The woman is most comfortable in a costume almost 365 days a year. Kirby plays a major role in this story as he gets his whole swim team, in costume, to help at the store at the busiest time of the year. One costume involving sheets had me laughing out loud and telling my family all about it. Margo depends on him so she can check things out to find a better suspect than herself. There turns out to be quite a few. Diane Vallere has whipped up quite a mystery. Red herrings galore led me way astray. I was completely off when it came to pinning down the real killer. I enjoyed realistic dialogue and relationships. The relationship between Margo and her dad really warms my heart. They have been through a lot over the years and it has made them and their relationship strong. I was concerned about the relationship between Margo and Tak but by the end they and I came around. If you like you cozies to tickle your funny bone, this is a story for you. Ms. Vallere has balanced the mystery with plenty of humor. A Perfect Escape Read! I can’t wait for Dressed to Confess, to visit all these characters again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fu<_>ck you besh
BeckyMcF More than 1 year ago
Margo's family costume shop is so much better than any costume place I have ever been to and it is open all year (I have to admit I have never been to one of those)! This turned out to be a perfect Halloween-themed book! Since I have 2 children who are geologists, I especially enjoyed the seismologist's role in this mystery!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Margo, Disguise DeLimit, and her friends and family in Proper, Nevada. This was a great story perfect for this time of year--Halloween. Diane writes a great story with a plot that takes to the very end to find out whodunit. I love all her other series and Costume Shop Mystery is just as good. Can't wait for another one. I want to see what might happen in Margo's love life. It's getting interesting.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Masking for Trouble has a clever concept. I like the costume shop angle and a town that loves costumes (and parties). I found the mystery to be simple to solve. I was able to figure out the killer just based on the character’s introduction in the book. You could also see how Margo was setting herself up to be the lead suspect. Margo is supposed to be savvy and smart, but she does not come across that way in the book. She pokes around the crime scene (after being told to stay away), and she gets herself into the victim’s office (and gets caught). I know she is trying to prove her innocence, but she ended up looking guilty (she came across as a busy body). Margo comes across as insecure, jealous, and annoying (sorry, but she got on my nerves toward the end of the book). Margo should stick to her costumes. I do like that she wears a different unique costume each day. I give Masking for Trouble 3 out of 5 stars. The book is nicely written and easy to read (can be finished in about three hours or less of solid reading). One thing I did find entertaining was the Kirby and the swim team. They are helping at Disguise DeLimit during the Halloween rush. Their group costumes were hilarious and ingenious. When I first started the book, I was liking it. But the further I delved into the novel, the less I enjoyed it. I believe it was just too over-the-top. What is wrong with good characters and a nice, complex mystery. I also thought that there was too much romance in the book. I prefer cozy mysteries that have a subtle romance where it builds up over the course of the series. The relationship (if you can call it that) between Margo and Tak Hoshiyama is over complicated (she has to fake a flat tire just to meet him). They are keeping it a secret because of Tak’s father. But then Margo gets jealous if Tak is seen with another woman (it was silly). Margo is also jealous (disturbed) and upset because her father is dating (he is entitled to a life of his own). While Masking for Trouble is the second book in the series, it can be read alone. The events from the first book are brought up in Masking for Trouble. Will I read the next book in A Costume Shop Mystery? I will give the next book a chance. I did not have the opportunity to read A Disguise to Die For (first book in A Costume Shop Mystery series) so this was my first foray into the series, and I could have just had an off day. I have read and enjoyed other novels by Diane Vallere.
CozyUpWithKathy More than 1 year ago
a super Halloween entry MASKING FOR TROUBLE by Diane Vallere The Second Costume Shop Mystery It's closing in on Halloween in Proper City and Margo Tamblyn is in charge of Disguise De-Limit, the family costume shop, while her dad is living his dream of traveling the country looking for unique costumes. A nasty surprise comes in the form of newcomer Paul Haverford who is planning to buy up the town and turn it into a cookie cutter conglomerate of strip malls and box stores. His first step is blocking any company he doesn't own from winning the town's costume contest, thus Disguise De-Limit and its customers, and secondly teaching the town a lesson by making an example of Margo and her business. Discovering his plan too late, Margo goes to the costume party, but will she be able to save Halloween and her store?! Have you ever neglected to do something, perhaps you didn't even know you had to do, and a whole mountain of misfortune follows? Or have you ever done something childish and silly only to find the ramifications somewhat dire? In MASKING FOR TROUBLE Margo does both and finds herself prime suspect in the murder of Paul Haverford! What with trying to keep up during her store's busiest season, dealing with her secret relationship with Tak and the interest of another man, and helping Ebony host the new Halloween event, Margo hardly has time to look into the murder herself. Yet she still finds time to poke around and put herself in danger when she least suspects it! Margo Tamblyn is one of the most unique characters in cozy novels today. She endlessly recreates who she is by wearing different costumes each day. Yet she is able to be likeable, vulnerable yet strong, dependable and fun yet somehow fragile. She's a woman who is able to take care of herself, but is faced with doubts, even about herself. She continues to hide who she really is and hiding proves to be a main theme in this book. Margo and Tak are hiding their relationship. Margo's dad is hiding his plans. Several other people are hiding things too, which result in some unexpected results. Diane Vallere continues her Costume Shop Mystery series with a super Halloween entry. What a perfect backdrop for this series. The writing is crisp, the plot complex with multiple motives and interesting characters. With recipes and costume tips this book is a great read at any time of year, but extra special in October. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Who is the Killer Behind the Mask? If you write a mystery series set in a costume shop, you must be prepared to write a book set at Halloween. That’s just what Diane Vallere does in the second book in her Costume Shop Mysteries series, and Masking for Trouble is a pleasure to read. As you’d expect, a town like Proper City, Nevada, which uses any occasion to throw a costume party, really ramps things up for Halloween. There’s an epic town party, with smaller parties all week. In fact, the schools close for the week, and things are hopping all month at Disguise DeLimit, the costume shop that Margo Tamblyn has taken over from her father. However, things threaten to come to a screeching halt when Paul Haverford shows up in the shop a week before the big day. Paul is a venture capitalist with big plans for Proper City, including taking over businesses in the area and shutting those down that won’t sell to him. He’s also sponsoring this year’s town party, which means only those businesses that have sold to him will be allowed to participate. Since Disguise DeLimit is one of the hold outs, they are banned, and no one renting costumes from their shop can win any costume contests. Margo tries to reason with Paul, but that only makes things worse. Still, she sneaks into the party that night. The party is being held in a long abandoned hotel on the outskirts of town, and the atmosphere is appropriately creepy. Things take a dark turn when Margo discovers Paul’s body in one of the hotel’s elevators. The police seem to think that she had a good motive for killing Paul. Can Margo unmask a killer before she has a new costume – prison orange? I fell in love with these characters when I read the first book in the series, and it was fabulous to be back in their presence here. We got to know them better in this book, and I liked how certain relationships progressed. And can I say how much I love Kirby and his swim team friends? They were an absolute blast. Of course, we meet some great new characters here that make interesting suspects. Speaking of interesting, the plot for this book is quite intriguing. It twists in some ways I didn’t anticipate before we reach a logical and fun climax. And the book makes great use of the Halloween setting. You can’t help but feel the late October in the air. Okay, so being Nevada, it’s desert air, but still, if you love this holiday, you’ll love this book. We get some fun extras at the end as well. There are four easy recipes, ideas for fun and easy costumes (something I always need), and lists of some other slightly scarier but non-traditional Halloween costumes. Halloween and costumes are such a natural fit, and Masking for Trouble does a great job of combining them with a fun mystery. Don your favorite disguise and settle in for a page turning book. NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.