The best humorous cozy mysteries set in the fashion industry

Who am I?

Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, I am a ladies’ swimwear sales exec. I love solving puzzles, asking a lot of questions, and am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL). So, writing mysteries set in the fashion industry was the natural next step for me to take. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write.


I wrote...

Death by Sample Size

By Susie Black,

Book cover of Death by Sample Size

What is my book about?

Death by Sample Size is the story of one ruthless woman’s quest to build the biggest, most powerful buying office in the Los Angeles apparel industry no matter who she had to destroy to succeed. Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her?

The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge.

The books I picked & why

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Designer Dirty Laundry

By Diane Vallere,

Book cover of Designer Dirty Laundry

Why this book?

I love cozy mysteries with a witty protagonist who usually discovers the corpse. Clever dialogue in a fashion setting, with wacky supporting characters get me laughing, and a twisty plot I can’t figure out keeps me turning the pages. Designer Dirty Laundry is all of that rolled up into one laugh-out-loud story. I credit this book and series with giving me the impetus to write my debut cozy.

Designer Dirty Laundry

By Diane Vallere,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Designer Dirty Laundry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Wonderful read regardless of your fashion sense. Samantha Kidd could not be more entertaining and, surprisingly, relatable." ~Shawna, Reviewer

National bestselling author Diane Vallere delivers your new favorite fashionable amateur sleuth! Join Samantha Kidd as she trades high fashion for dirty laundry and learns a great wardrobe isn't enough to turn her life around, let alone catch a killer.

She expected the fashion industry to be ruthless. She wasn't prepared for it to turn deadly.

Ready to redesign her life, style expert Samantha Kidd accepts a job in her Pennsylvania hometown as a trend specialist. But her first day goes…


Pleating for Mercy

By Melissa Bourbon,

Book cover of Pleating for Mercy

Why this book?

Because I never stop asking what if, I am drawn to cozy mysteries with a plot that weaves a ribbon of fantasy through the stories. I love the added dimension of an inexplicable “presence” when Harlow Jane Cassidy leaves a successful Manhattan fashion design career and opens a dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century Texas farmhouse she inherits from her grandmother.

Pleating for Mercy

By Melissa Bourbon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pleating for Mercy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow Jane Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas. But when she opens a dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century farmhouse she inherited, Harlow senses an inexplicable "presence". Is Meemaw really gone, or she now Harlow's ghostly roommate?

Her old friend Josie orders a gown for her upcoming wedding, but when Josie's boss turns up dead, Harlow has to find the killer-with a little help from beyond.


Veiled Revenge

By Ellen Byerrum,

Book cover of Veiled Revenge

Why this book?

I’ve always been a sucker for a good curse to thicken a cozy mystery plot, and this one has a doozy: a stunning Russian shawl worn by a fortune-teller at a bridal shower that Washington, D.C. fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian attends for her BFF Stella. I love the plucky amateur sleuth who uses her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after.

Veiled Revenge

By Ellen Byerrum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Veiled Revenge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Danger in High Heels

By Gemma Halliday,

Book cover of Danger in High Heels

Why this book?

A protagonist who is loyal to a fault and willing to put her life on the line to clear an innocent friend is a key ingredient to a cozy I want to read. So, I was naturally attracted to shoe designer Maddie Springer in Danger in High Heels who springs into action and risks her life to clear her wrongly accused BFF’s boyfriend of murder. I prefer amateur sleuths stumbling and bumbling their way to solving the case like Maddy does. Her snappy comebacks gave this cozy the spice that made the story zing. 

Danger in High Heels

By Gemma Halliday,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Danger in High Heels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 Amazon, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling series!
Death on the set of a Dancing with Celebrities TV show has someone taking their final bow...

Maddie Springer is all about fashion. So when her the movie star her best friend is dating, Ricky Montgomery, becomes a contestant on the ballroom dance reality hit, Dancing with Celebrities, she is over the moon at the chance to view the sparkly, spandexy costumes up close. That is until Ricky's dance partner is found dead in his dressing room...in the nude! Suddenly the police suspect him of murder, his girlfriend, Dana, suspects…


Slay Bells and Satchels

By Dorothy Howell,

Book cover of Slay Bells and Satchels

Why this book?

Coming from an apparel sales exec. career, I gravitate to cozy stories set in stores. I love clueless employees who stumble over dead bodies, and zany characters who manage to get themselves out of crazy situations. I especially enjoy cozies with a holiday theme. Slay Bells and Satchels has it all. I laughed out loud when fashionista purse lover department store sales clerk Haley Randolph finds a murdered elf in the store’s giant toy bag. Slay Bells and Satchels tickled my funny bone throughout the story, but had me guessing whodunit to the last page. 

Slay Bells and Satchels

By Dorothy Howell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slay Bells and Satchels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Summer Santa Sale at Holt’s Department Store becomes a Christmas nightmare when sales clerk Haley Randolph finds a murdered elf in the store’s giant toy bag. Haley, a crazed fashionista obsessed with designer handbags, could find herself “bagged” if she doesn’t untangle this mystery quicker than Saint Nick can slide down a chimney. But Haley has another problem: Can working with hot private detective Jack Bishop put her on Santa’s “naughty” list?


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fashion, murder, and private investigators?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fashion, murder, and private investigators.

Fashion Explore 43 books about fashion
Murder Explore 497 books about murder
Private Investigators Explore 196 books about private investigators

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Devil Wears Prada, Death at the Seaside, and Dancers in Mourning if you like this list.