CHARACTER GUEST POST: Staging is Murder by Grace Topping (Cozy Mystery)

A Laura Bishop Mystery #1

Grace Topping

Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Henery Press
Date of Publication:  April 30, 2019
Number of Pages:  268

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Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, removing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties. To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure. Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

Laura Bishop from STAGING IS MURDER
People ask me why I decided to become a home stager, especially leaving a well-paying job in Information Technology. I went into IT because everyone said it was a good field to work in, but it bored me to tears. Investigating a system problem and finding a bug in the system was about as exciting as my job or life got.

After my husband was killed in an automotive accident, with his female passenger (long story), I decided to change careers and do something that made me happy instead of what others thought I should do. I always had a knack for interior decorating—so I decided to go into a career that could draw on my talents. I began by helping friends “stage” their homes for sale (making them as appealing as possible to sell quickly and for a good price). To make a living doing staging, I realized I needed to get some training and accreditation as a professional home stager, which I did.

Little did I realize that when I nabbed my first staging job, I would be introduced to the world of murder and mayhem. I knew staging a 19th century mansion that hadn’t been updated in decades could be murder. I just didn’t expect it to involve a body, especially a body that fell from a laundry chute and landed at my feet. Suddenly, my old boring life looked more appealing. 

I’m a hardworking and responsible person—one who doesn’t want to disappoint people. But sometimes the best thing about a person can also be the worst thing. I have a hard time saying no, and once I make a commitment, I follow through, sometimes to my own detriment. When Mrs. Webster, the grandmother of a murder suspect, beseeched me to help him by finding the murderer, how could I say no? I tried explaining that my only experience in solving a mystery was finding those pesky system bugs and that I had no experience uncovering a murderer. But since she has such faith in me, I ended up agreeing to at least try. Now I’m stuck trying to find a cold-blooded murderer, and at the same time, deal with the awful flowered wallpaper in the mansion.

My first mistake was letting it slip to my BFF, Nita Martino, that I had gotten pulled into the investigation. Would you believe, she had me going to a campground at night to investigate whether some men living there in a rickety camper could be the ones who committed the murder? She also dragged Mrs. Webster and me to the same campground searching for some members of Hell’s Angels who might have been involved with the murder. Mrs. Webster is one tough old bird—brave and determined. She probably should have conducted her own investigation.

Nita and I have been friends since second grade when her large and loving Italian-American family took me under their wing. My home life wasn’t the greatest, and Nita’s family filled in the cracks with love and good humor. The problem with Nita is that I frequently end up playing Ethel to her Lucy. She is always coming up with harebrained schemes that get us into trouble. Like the time she brought a psychic to the mansion to sweep the house of negativity. Or when she took us on that visit to the campground. It nearly got us arrested.

I’m committed to finding out who killed the mansion’s homeowner. Unfortunately, my aversion to handsome men has complicated my dealings with both the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the mansion from foreclosure. My mother always told me you can’t trust handsome men. Was she right?

Come follow my adventures in STAGING IS MURDER. You’ll discover that I’m a real amateur at investigating a murder. An investigation that could get me killed.

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.


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Best of luck!

Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours and Grace Topping! It was a pleasure hosting! 

And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

April 25 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
April 25 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
April 26 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
April 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
April 27 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
April 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
April 28 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
April 29 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
May 6 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
May 6 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT
May 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 8 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
May 8 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
May 9 – Carole’s Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT
May 10 – Teresa Trent Author Site – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 11 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
May 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 12 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST
May 13 – That’s What She’s Reading – CHARACTER GUEST POST

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