Setting: Palm Springs, California
- Madison Night – designer and devotee of all things Doris Day and 50’s mod
- Hudson James – handyman, strong silent type, Madison’s boyfriend
- Additional characters include Emma, Hudson’s sister; Jimmy, Emma’s husband; Jo, Jimmy and Emma’s next door neighbor; Tex, police captain in Lakewood, Texas, where Madison and Hudson live; and other police personnel in Palm Springs. Not to mention a few unsavory sorts here and there.
Plot: Hudson surprises Madison with a job out of town, luring her in with the promise of a new strip mall all decked out in her favorite style and romantic nights after they are done working for the day. The pair pack up their pets and head to Palm Springs. But the trip seems doomed from the outset. They have a car accident on the way to Emma and Jimmy’s house and things rapidly devolve from there, especially after Madison spots a body floating in the river by Jimmy’s job site. Tensions grow between Madison and Jimmy while Hudson tries to keep the peace and Madison tries to convince the police that she didn’t imagine the body – even when their search of the river comes up empty. Madison is still dealing with post-traumatic stress from a series of abductions back home and even she begins to doubt what she saw. But the body does turn up and Madison finds herself in the tricky position of knowing secrets on all sides – things she’s keeping from Hudson, things Emma tells her in confidence, and things she doesn’t even want to admit to herself.
Wild Card: Diane Vallere crafted quite a puzzling mystery in The Decorator Who Knew Too Much. I was stumped right up until the big reveal, turning over the pieces of information right along with Madison, trying to make the fit together and form the name of the killer. Aside from the mystery itself, my favorite part of the book was the wonderful descriptions of Madison’s wardrobe – complete with vintage pattern numbers! And, of course, I do have a soft spot for her dog, Rocky.
Hit, Miss, or Draw?: Hit, but readers will probably follow along a little better having read the previous books in the series.
About the Book
When Interior Decorator Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with handyman Hudson James, she expects designing days and romantic nights. But after spotting a body in the river by the job site, she causes a rift in the team. Add in the strain of recurring nightmares and a growing dependency on sleeping pills, and Madison seeks professional help to deal with her demons.
She learns more about the crime than she’d like thanks to girl talk with friends, pillow talk with Hudson, and smack talk with the local bad boys. And after the victim is identified as the very doctor she’s been advised to see, she wonders if what she knows can help catch a killer. An unlikely ally helps navigate the murky waters before her knowledge destroys her, and this time, what she doesn’t know might be the one thing that saves her life.
Books in the Madison Night Mystery Series
About the Author
Diane Vallere grew up reading both Trixie Belden mysteries and Vogue magazine and learned how to spot a counterfeiting ring and accessorize a wardrobe. Now she uses that knowledge to dream up plots for the Samantha Kidd, Madison Night, Material Witness, and Costume Shop mystery series. She still loves accessories, only now some of them are accessories to murder.