When Izzy gets a killer dress for her birthday, she isn’t expecting to accessorize it with murder…

It’s 1958 in the cozy coastal town of Twin Oaks and amateur sleuth Isabelle Walsh is armed with a fresh perspective, two years after tragedy strikes. The first stop on her journey back to joy is the best little dress shop in town—introduced to her by best friend and fashion fiend, Ava Russell.

Izzy falls in love with the store and its style. So, when the boutique is marred by murder, Izzy wants to help. But with more suspects to choose from than a spring collection, she isn’t sure where to start.

Can Izzy unravel the twisted truth or will she become the victim of a deadly trend? Find out in the third book in the Izzy Walsh Mystery Series!

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Girls Dressed for Murder by Lynn McPherson, Izzy Walsh is hard on the trail of another murderer. This time someone has killed the owner of Izzy’s favorite dress shop. Is it the victim’s husband, always the prime suspect? Could it be an old enemy from the victim’s high school days? Who has a motive? And why use a historical artifact stolen from a museum to do it? With more suspects than clues, Izzy sure has her work cut out for her.

A delightful cozy mystery, filled with wonderful characters and fast paced action, this is one mystery fans won’t want to miss.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Girls Dressed for Murder by Lynn McPherson is the third book in her Izzy Walsh Mystery series. It is now 1958 in the quaint costal New England town of Twin Oaks, and Izzy has been a widow for four years. Her birthday is fast approaching, and to treat herself, she heads to her favorite boutique for a new dress. But she soon finds more than just the season’s newest collection. When the boutique owner is murdered on her way to dinner, Izzy is happy to help the police sort through the clues. With no shortage of suspects, but very little to go on, how will Izzy and her friends solve this baffling murder?

Charming, intriguing, and fast paced, The Girls Dressed for Murder takes us back to a simpler time, when family, love, and friendship was all that mattered. Join Izzy for yet another adventure in this quaint little village. You’ll be glad you did.

Chapter 1

Time goes by faster as we age. I read that somewhere, but it never made any sense—until recently. My upcoming birthday seemed to be approaching much more quickly than my last one had. Dammit. How was that possible? Looking around the empty house, I wondered if it was simply a matter of having too much time to think. I no longer basked in the peaceful quiet my house provided. I missed the loud chaos—something I never thought I could years back. Now that my kids were teenagers, they weren’t around as much to cause a ruckus. I needed to have a talk with them. Their growing interests outside of the home were starting to make me think about unpleasant things like aging. Summer camp was proving especially difficult in this regard. It was hard to believe my kids had grown to be so independent. I looked forward to their return already, and they had only been gone four days. Another week and a half was sure to send me to the brink. Perhaps it was time to consider canine companionship.

It had been four years since Frank’s passing. They say everyone deals with grief differently. I hid away and clutched at the solace my children provided by their very existence. It took a long time to unclench that grip. At the beginning, it was as if I was holding on for my own dear life. But slowly it released as the range of emotions I experienced became less intense—less raw. Joy began to trickle back into my life, and I knew that was it. Besides, forty was only a few years away. And, as my best friend Ava had begun to remind me, I was still here. It was time to get on with life. Frank would be forever with me in my heart and soul, and that comforted me beyond words. I took a big swig of coffee, allowed myself to sit quietly with my tidal grief, then shook my head to rid it of the approaching sadness I felt creeping in when I indulged too long.

I looked out the window onto my empty suburban crescent and changed my focus onto my immediate circumstance. I was up, dressed, and styled at an indecently early hour on account of my aforementioned oldest, dearest, and most exasperating best friend. And…she was late. Rarely could Ava Russell make it anywhere on time. But she was due to be here fifteen minutes ago, and that was allowing for her usual lateness. Considering the brunette beauty only had to get her long legs about three blocks from her front door to mine, I could feel the little patience I had slowly oozing out of my body.

I tried to force my furrowed brow to smooth with my index finger, silently cursing Ava for adding to the accelerating aging process by inciting this early onset of wrinkles—the idea of which was first prompted by her regular commentary of what she called my overly expressive expressions. Luckily, my frown soon lifted as I spotted my kindred spirit making her way down the street. As she came closer into view, my nose pressed against the window like a magnet to metal in an attempt to get a better look. Something was up—my usually proud and polished companion had transformed from a perfect rose to a wilted weed. The mystery was solved as I spotted Ava’s footwear. Sky-high stilettos left no doubt as to why she was struggling to strut. I watched her pull each shoe off angrily and finish her walk in stocking feet.

A grin spread across my face as I opened the door. I attempted to calm it as Ava laboriously dragged herself into my living room and flopped onto the sofa. She wasn’t able to acknowledge me at first, instead puffing out her breaths one after the other, as if having completed a marathon.

Her crumpled figure still held her beautiful black heels in one hand as she looked up at me warily through her thick black mascara.

She pursed her lips. “Water,” she whispered.

I nodded in assent and fetched a tall glass filled to the brim. She lapped it up like a thirsty young pup might do after a jaunt at the park. Ava finished her drink and lay back, finally having the opportunity to catch her breath. She looked up at me and cringed. “What is so damned funny, Izzy?”

I felt my eyes widen and clasped at my chest innocently. “I am a picture of serenity. Calm and humorless.” I put my hand on her forehead to check her temperature sympathetically.

She playfully swatted it away. “You think I can’t see that stifled goofy smile? Your eyes are practically giggling right out of their sockets.”

I gave up my attempt to deny it and allowed my grin to be free. “Fine, you’ve got my number. But honestly, Ava, what possessed you to select those particular shoes to walk over here? It doesn’t require a lot of common sense to know stilettos are not a good choice for a stroll.”

She sat back and let out a loud huff. “Yes, Izzy, I’m aware of that. But I paid a fortune for these. I assumed part of the cost was for the engineering of a more comfortable shoe. Boy, did I have that wrong.”

Lesson learned. What Ava lacked in common sense she made up for in loyalty and fun. There was no need to say any more about her failings. “I am very impressed you walked here. I would’ve fallen in a ditch halfway, praying for you to come find me.”

She nodded curtly in response then finished the few sips of water left in her glass. Ava had been trying out different forms of exercise after reading about some of her favorite Hollywood starlets’ fitness routines. Over the last few weeks she’d gone through everything from tap dancing to hula hooping. Unfortunately, Ava had never been particularly athletic so her attempts led mostly to rolled ankles and broken vases.

When her ever-so-sensible husband pleaded with her to start with simpler activities for the sake of his wallet and her health, she complied. I doubt he foresaw an injury from the mutually agreed upon act of walking.

Luckily, Ava was a resilient woman so it didn’t take her long to fully recover from any injury she sustained, including this one. To speed up her recovery, I brought out my ginger snap cookies that she loved.

Within a few minutes, she was ready to take on the day, all thoughts of the momentary setback forgotten. “I’m excited you’re coming with me to Robin’s Closet.”

“Me, too. Wait—didn’t the name change to Barbara’s Closet?”

“Officially yes, but when Barbara bought the shop, she couldn’t realistically expect people to call it that.”

I frowned. “Why not? She’s the new owner.”

“Robin Manners brought New York fashion to our very own Twin Oaks. I think that fact alone should earn her name on the store, whether she abandoned it or not.”

“Robin got married. That doesn’t qualify as abandonment,” I reminded her.

“I am well aware of the circumstances, of course. But you can’t blame a girl for feeling the sting of such a loss. There was at least a year or two that the shop was no better than ordering straight out of a catalogue.”

I peered down at my sensible white blouse and navy capris, purchased directly from the very pages of which she spoke. “That’s what people do. Without having a big city department store in our charming coastal town, it’s the normal way to purchase nice and respectable clothing. To be honest, I’m a little nervous going to Robin’s and trying on something else. I have full confidence in catalogue wear. I’m not so confident straying elsewhere.”

“Izzy Walsh, you need to loosen up a bit. Robin is brilliant and you’ll love it.”

“But what if I don’t like anything? Will Barbara make me buy something anyway? You know she always gets her way.”

“No need to worry,” Ava said. “Barbara is there less and less these days. I guess owning her own shop has begun to lose its charm.”

I wasn’t surprised. “Since we were teenagers, she’s had a hard time staying focused on anything for very long. She’s gone from one thing to the next. She sees something she wants and she gets it. It’s about getting her own way.”

Ava stood up and walked back to the front door. She expertly slid back into her high heels and retrieved her kitten-framed polka-dotted black and white sunglasses from her snappy red handbag. “You’re right. And with her father—and then her husband—indulging every whim, why would Barbara ever change? Must be nice. Now, let’s go, slowpoke. They get their new shipments in on Thursdays, and I want to be first in line to see what came in. No dillydallying.”

I followed her out the door like a shadow, not wanting to be responsible for someone beating Ava to the latest looks. It was the kind of thing she might never forgive me for—she had a list.

Ava strode confidently toward my car in her designer shoes as I got the keys from my purse. I bit my lip to prevent another grin at my friend’s expense. The idea of her having a lack of understanding about indulgence was rather comical. I hadn’t known Ava’s husband to ever say no to her, either. But I wouldn’t fault her for it. Ava was a loving wife and Bruce adored her. Luckily for both, he made enough money to happily support her passion for fashion.

More recently, I too, had become a fairly wealthy woman. Before Frank died, he had expanded his business—growing from one modest garage to a chain that included several successful mechanic shops. He was so busy working his tail off, he never had time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Then again, I hadn’t indulged in anything more than simple necessities since he passed, either. It looked like today that might change. With a little prodding from my kids to treat myself while they were away, I decided that a new dress would be nice for my birthday. I reluctantly agreed to accompany Ava to her favorite clothing boutique. I just hoped I wouldn’t end up looking ridiculous. I didn’t have the flair Ava did either, so what looked fabulous on her tall voluptuous figure, often looked silly on my much more petite frame.

Pushing all doubts aside, I donned my own kitten-framed black sunglasses, courtesy of Ava, and revved the engine of my little red convertible. I looked in the side mirror and rolled my eyes. Some battles I was simply destined to lose.

© 2019 by Lynn McPherson