Friday, November 7, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Suede to Rest (A Material Witness Mystery #1) by Diane Vallere

Unraveling family secrets can be murder in Suede to Rest...

With her career as a dress designer in shreds, Polyester Monroe is looking forward to a fresh start. But as it all unfolds, the pattern to a new beginning looks a lot like murder.

When Poly Monroe was little, she loved playing in her family’s textile store. But after a fatal family tragedy, Land of A Thousand Fabrics was boarded up and Poly never expected to see the inside again. Now, as inheritor of the long-shuttered shop, she’s ready to restore the family business. However her two new kittens, Pins and Needles, aren’t the ones causing a snag in her plans…

Not everyone wants Poly back in San Ladrón, especially a powerful local developer pressuring her to sell—and leave town fast. But even when the threats turn deadly, she’s not ready to bolt. Because Poly is beginning to suspect that the murder behind the shop is tied to a mystery in her family’s unsettled past that she’s determined to solve…before her own life is left hanging by a thread.


I have fond memories of playing in fabric stores when I was young. My mom is an excellent seamstress, and often took my sister and me on trips to Levine’s, our local fabric store, to pick out patterns for new dresses, curtains, pillows, or pajamas. She’d drop me by the tables of pattern books where I’d spend hours flipping through the pages, admiring the fashionable sketches and dreaming of the possibilities. As I got older, I would wander the aisles and pick out interesting prints for clothes that I made myself. 

Fabric stores are like bookstores to me. I can’t walk into one and not come out with a package. There are no better places to fritter away time! So when the idea of a cozy mystery series set in a fabric shop came to mind, I knew it was the perfect way to combine two passions. I imagined an old fabric store like the one I used to play in, one that had been around since the fifties. What treasures might be hidden inside: dusty vintage fabrics in a stockroom, new old stock of buttons, pattern books from decades past, forgotten packages of bias tape, or thick bolts of polyester double knit? Or maybe a hint of an unsolved mystery?

SUEDE TO REST, the first book in the Material Witness Mystery Series, opens with Polyester Monroe (so named because she was born inside of the store, on a bed of polyester!) standing in front of the fabric store that she’s inherited. What should be a simple transaction involving her signature on a couple of documents gets complicated when Poly decides to go inside and experience the world where she grew up one last time. She doesn’t expect to feel so connected to the store, especially since she doesn’t feel nearly that connected to the job she holds in Los Angeles. She also doesn’t expect to find a dead body in the parking lot the day after she arrives. It seems Poly  has a choice: stay in San Ladrón and learn the truth about the small town’s secrets, or sign away her ownership of the store and go back to life as she knows it. 

I sometimes think there is a part of all of us that wants a chance to get away from our everyday life. Inheriting the fabric store is a wakeup call for Poly. It throws her life into disarray and makes her think about whether or not her life is headed the right direction—and question what exactly is the “right” direction for her.  Not that long ago, I had my own wakeup call and asked myself the same questions. That’s when I changed career paths and moved from Texas to California (where SUEDE TO REST is set). The move was scary--especially for someone who likes to plan everything! I could have stayed where I was, and I could have moved back to Pennsylvania, where I’m from. Instead, I chose the unknown door number three. The move brought new opportunities to my life and, while I haven’t had to contend with any dead bodies, I did think a lot about that somewhat spontaneous decision when writing Poly’s story. So far, things have worked out pretty well for me.

I wonder how they’ll turn out for Poly?

I grew up reading both Trixie Belden mysteries and Vogue magazine and learned how to spot a counterfeiting ring and accessorize a wardrobe. Now I use that knowledge to dream up plots for the Style & Error Mystery Series, the Mad for Mod Mystery Series, and the upcoming Fabric Store Series for Berkley Prime Crime. I still love accessories, only now some of them are accessories to murder.

What a great book.  It's so clever!  The protagonist of the story is Poly... real name Polyester!  And it's significant because she's inherited a fabric store.  It just works, right?!  And Poly is quite the heroine.  She's smart and tenacious, and her two kitties, Pins and Needles, are adorable additions to the story!  The secondary characters in the book were also great. 

The one thing that I loved the most about the story, is the fact that while it's set in southern California (a seemingly non-cozy place...), the author does a tremendous job of capturing a small-town setting in an unlikely place.  It was such a pleasant experience! 

Overall, it's a wonderful start to a very promising series, and I can't wait for book number 2!

Rating: 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 paperback copy of Suede to Rest by Diane Vallere to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!

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