I'm recommending a fun murder mystery series today. Specialized murder mysteries (where the main character is a caterer, or a cook, or a wedding planner, or shows dogs, or races horses, etc. - and funny enough I have read series with all of those) seem to be making a splash the last 10 years, but I haven't come across many that feature a dry cleaner. The Mandy Dyers Mysteries by Dolores Johnson fills that void, and does it very well.
The first of the series is Taken to the Cleaners, first published in 1997.
Mandy Dyer is all business. She has to be. Left high and dry by her would-be-lawyer ex-husband, Mandy turns to her uncle's Denver dry-cleaning company-and soon finds herself in charge. Now, amid the hissing presses, rattling rails, and the fanciest computer system around, Mandy is making a go of it-even if her social life isn't. Then Betty the Bag Lady comes in with a man's suit, slashed and stained with blood.
How much evidence can one piece of clothing hold? From the blood to knife gashes and some long strands of blonde hair, Mandy, working alongside a handsome Denver detective, soon realizes that the garment, too small for murder victim-just might fit the killer. But with a prominent lawyer dead and a potential witness missing, returning this suit to its rightful owner isn't going to be easy--until Mandy, a woman who suddenly has one too many men in her life, figures out how to make a killer come clean.
Mandy is a fun and humorous protagonist, who feels very real and approachable. The characters are likable--even down to Mandy's cat--and the story flows well. The mystery may be a little more solvable than I would have liked, but I enjoyed the book so much it didn't bother me too much. And I did run to the library afterwards to read the rest of the series.
Taken to the Cleaners isn't going to change your life or perspective of the world, but it's perfect for a light, fun read. The rest of the books in the series are: Hung Up to Die; A Dress to Die For; Wash, Fold, and Die; Homicide and Old Lace; Buttons and Foes; Taking the Wrap; and Pressed To Kill.
Dolores Johnson worked as a journalist on newspapers in Oregon, California, Wyoming and Colorado, but she always wanted to write and sell a murder mystery. You can find out more about Dolores Johnson and her books on her website.