Read A Custom Fit Crime Online

Authors: Melissa Bourbon

A Custom Fit Crime


Praise for the Magical Dressmaking Mystery Series

A Fitting End

“A fun family affair. . . . Fans will enjoy Harlow Jane’s amateur sleuthing with advice from her late great-grandma and the Texas posse.”

—The Best Reviews

“Bliss is a wonderfully Southern town, with all its charms and foibles, traditions and society. . . . This enchanting mystery with down-home charm is as comfortable as slipping into your favorite dress and sitting down and drinking sweet tea with engaging characters who quickly become old friends.”

—The Mystery Reader

“Harlow is a delight. . . . There’s something a bit magical about this series. Ms. Bourbon has taken a premise, characters, and a setting that may not have worked with anyone else at the keyboard, and created a fab-tastic series.”

—Once Upon a Romance

“A fun book, with the wide assortment of characters filling the page.”

—Fresh Fiction

“The perfect blend of dressmaking and intrigue.”

—Sew Daily

Pleating for Mercy

“Enchanting! Prepare to be spellbound from page one by this well-written and deftly plotted cozy. It’s charming, clever, and completely captivating! Fantasy, fashion, and foul play—all sewn together by a wise and witty heroine you’ll instantly want as a best friend. Loved it!”

—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award–winning author “Melissa Bourbon’s new series will keep you on pins and needles.”

—Mary Kennedy, author of the Talk Radio Mysteries

“Cozy couture! Harlow Jane Cassidy is a tailor-made amateur sleuth. Bourbon stitches together a seamless mystery, adorned with magic, whimsy, and small-town Texas charm.”

—Wendy Lyn Watson, author of the Mystery à la Mode series “A seamless blend of mystery, magic, and dressmaking, with a cast of masterfully tailored characters you’ll want to visit again and again.”

—Jennie Bentley, national bestselling author of
Wall-to-Wall Dead

“A crime-solving ghost and magical charms from the past make
Pleating for Mercy
a sure winner! The Cassidy women are naturally drawn to mystery and mischief. You’ll love meeting them!”

—Maggie Sefton, national bestselling author of
Close Knit Killer

“As the daughter of a sewing teacher, I found the dressmaking tips at the end of the book to be completely true and helpful, and I found Harlow’s character to be compelling and relatable as a down-to-earth designer and seamstress.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Well done, Ms. Bourbon! You’ve created a well-designed and delightful set of characters in a ‘charm’ing setting with a one-of-a-kind premise.”

—Once Upon a Romance



Other Magical Dressmaking Mysteries

Pleating for Mercy

A Fitting End

Deadly Patterns


A Custom-Fit Crime


Melissa Bourbon



Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA


USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England For more information about the Penguin Group visit

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Melissa Bourbon, 2013

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ISBN 978-1-10160268-3


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.



Also by Melissa Bourbon

Title Page

Copyright Page




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38


Make Your Own Felt Beads

Cassidy Family Tree

Excerpt from


For Aunt Sarah, and for my own best friend, Marilyn.



A special thanks to Gretchen (Gertie) Hirsch and her blog, Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing, to Ann Athey for inspiring Harlow’s rag quilt, to Diedre Johnson for introducing me to the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, to Carol Loo for inspiring me with her wool beads, and to Carolyn Klein Lagattuta and her spiderweb pictures.

Chapter 1

When I’d first returned home to Bliss, Texas, I thought my hometown would be just as peaceful as it was when I was a little girl. It was still sweet and Southern, sure, but lately death had found a way of creeping in between the seams, and too often, I’d been in the mix.

In New York, a knock on the door in the middle of the night would have been enough to send my heart into a frenzied patter. But I was in Texas now, and a
on the front door of my little yellow farmhouse with the redbrick trim wasn’t cause for alarm.

“Meemaw?” I rolled to my side, my voice sleepy. My great-grandmother, Loretta Mae Cassidy, had passed on before I’d come back home, but I’d learned that the Cassidy women didn’t always cross right over to the other side. Not something that had filled me with joy when I’d found out.

Meemaw hung around the farmhouse her daddy had built, trying to communicate with me. Or playing jokes, depending on how you looked at it.

If Loretta Mae was tapping on the door downstairs, she wasn’t letting on. “Meemaw, I’m sleeping,” I murmured, but the sounds continued.

And then, through my bleary eyes, I saw the red and gold curtains on either side of the window rustle followed by a louder tap-tap-tap from downstairs. If Meemaw was up here with me, then who . . .

I lay still in my bed, listening for a repeat, wondering for a second if I had imagined the sound.

But then it came again.
Tap. Tap. Tap

I peered at the clock. Two a.m. Surely the Dallas fashion brigade, which was supposed to show up in the morning for part two of an interview and photo shoot, hadn’t arrived eight hours too early. I was suddenly wide awake, my pulse zipping along like a sewing machine whose foot pedal was stuck. I jumped out of bed, stepped over Earl Grey, the sweet little potbelly pig Will Flores and his daughter, Gracie, had given me at Christmas, and padded, barefoot, across the cold wooden floor and out to the landing, stopping to listen.

Tap. Tap. Tap

Mama wouldn’t knock. She’d just come on in. Same with Nana and Granddaddy, and
come in to the kitchen through the Dutch door off the back porch.

It could be Will. We’d been dating for months now, and every day we grew closer and closer, but he didn’t just show up on my stoop in the middle of the night. He wasn’t that kind of man, and I wasn’t that kind of woman. Which led me to— “Oh no, Gracie?” She’d run here, to me, once before when she’d learned the truth about her mother leaving her when she was just a baby. We’d formed a close bond since I’d come back to Bliss, too, and I certainly didn’t want her out alone in the middle of the night.

The sound at the door changed, becoming more of a scraping. It seemed to move off to the window. Surely it wasn’t Gracie, I reasoned, darting a quick look around for a weapon. Just in case. An antique sidebar stood against the wall in the landing, a decorative metal dress form on one side, a bowl filled with handmade felt beads on the other. I could pelt the intruder with the little round balls of wool, but that wouldn’t ward off whoever it was for very long. If at all. The magical Cassidy family charm wouldn’t help, either. I could make people’s wishes and dreams come true when I made clothing for them, but I couldn’t conjure up a spell to protect myself from strangers at my front door.

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