My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“A kiss on the hand may be quite continental,
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
— Leo Robin, Lyricist
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Fancy ye a Marquise Cut? Fancy ye a Princess Cut? How about an Asscher Cut? Or a Cushion Cut? What would you say to a Radiant Cut? Or even a Tiffany-style Solitaire?
Fancy ye a Verona Emerald Cut? Or maybe even perhaps a Bali Trillion Cut?
Whichever cut of a diamond any singular woman may desire—Pear, Oval, or otherwise—it should be indicated that many great jewelers, even from of old and modern times, including the likes of Harry Winston, Louis Cartier, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Sotirios Voulgaris, and Cecil Rhodes, just to name a few, established their world-renowned jewel houses on this most exquisite and coveted rock of precious, carbonized mineral. And in this bright, sparkling gem of a cozy mystery penned by the admirably adept Stephanie Damore, one woman takes her insatiable want for the world’s most spellbinding stone to an entirely new extreme, even to that of theft by swindle.
Springtime and St. Patrick’s Day are quickly approaching in the Peach State where we come to meet Ziva, er, the diva Ziva Diaz, a beauty (products) queen and our lovely southern belle of a protagonist. Ziva has just finished picking up her product shipment and making a few beauty supply deliveries. And as a reward for a job well done, Ziva is on her way to Sweet Thangs to enjoy herself to the tune of a sweet treat and a chai latte (yum!) when she receives a phone call from her grandmother’s best friend, Mrs. Birdie Jackson, who goes on to tell Ziva that Aria (Ziva’s bestie) has been apprehended for shoplifting.
Apparently, Aria has been accused of attempting to steal a $10,000.00 diamond ring from the luxury jeweler, Magnificent Gems—previously Smith & Company. And once the two ladies connect by phone, Aria—who’s sitting in jail—lavishes Ziva with a first hand account of just what went down inside of the jewel boutique prior to her arrest.
In short, the pricey stone in query somehow ended up at the bottom of Aria’s handbag. It is certainly a mystery as to how the cased diamond ring made its way to the bottom of her bag, but Aria swears on the famous Kimberley of South Africa that she had no hand in it. And if she didn’t actually do it, then who did? Who so desperately wanted to acquire the 4 carat diamond-encrusted pink sapphire ring at a sticker-shocking five-finger discount?
In addition to Aria, there were also other customers inside of the boutique at the time of the would-be robbery, including that pesky, nosy, and gossipy old Mrs. Birdie Jackson. Could she be our thief?
Was it Justine Martin, the town skeezer and Ziva’s competitive nemesis? Could she be the one whose fingers were sticky?
How about the security guard, Joey Bones? Is it possible that he was idolatrous towards the extravagant piece, what considering that his impoverished home is a cinder block-perched trailer in the backwoods of Jawja?
Given his “questionable” behavior, could it have been Gregory Pierce, the store’s brand new owner?
Is it possible that our bandit could be Jacob, the man next to whom Aria had been standing so closely, and with whom Aria had participated in enlivening chatter?
Who was that man? The mystery man seated in his car outside of the jewel house? Who is O’Connor, the intriguing, red-bearded leprechaun? Is he in town for the upcoming St. Paddy’s Day festivities? Or is he in town to commit murder?
Ziva Diaz, assisted by the out-on-bail Aria, is out to crack the (jewelry display) case! And following her slapstick lead, it will only take the reader of this wacky and outrageously fun cozy (25) pages to flip forward to the answer.
A Ring to Die For was my satisfying introduction to the writing style of its cute and witty wordsmithess, Stephanie Damore. And in my longtime beauty buff, the talented novelist has herself a new fan.
Already in love with the makeshift sleuth, Ziva, it is with a burning zeal that I look forward to reading every published narrative of Damore’s Beauty Secrets Series—all of which star the same—in the succeeding order:
• Makeup & Murder (Book 1)
• Kiss & Makeup (Book 2)
• Eyeliner & Alibis (Book 3)
• Pedicures & Prejudice (Book 4)
• Beauty & Bloodshed (Book 5)
Drop dead gorgeous titles, all of them. But until I make the rib-tickling acquaintance of each individual one, I gleefully and loftily recommend their comedic and impermanent predecessor, A Ring to Die For.
Five IF Grade stars.