Josie Giancola, the country's leading expert on buttons, who owns the Button Box, a tiny shop in Chicago, helps to solve the murder of the beautiful actress Kate Franciscus, whose body is found on the floor of Josie's shop. In Button Holed [ISBN 978-0-425-24376-3], Kylie Logan tells the story of Josie Giancola, the country's leading expert on buttons and the owner of her own shop, the Button Box, in Chicago.
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Josie loves her twelve hundred square foot shop that she has recently leased [and has been opened for only one week] in a converted brownstone in Chicago's Old Town. It has an antique tin ceiling and “…sagey green colored walls…” It also has her collection of buttons – nearly 100,000 of them of all types: artistic; jeweled; metal; glass; antique; modern….
It is Monday morning. Josie is very excited because, today, Kate Franciscus, a beautiful and famous actress, is coming to her shop to choose buttons for her wedding dress. Kate, who is very particular, is engaged to Prince Rudolf of Ruritania. Josie has come in early to take a final look to see that everything is ready.
When Josie left her shop on Saturday afternoon it “…was pristine. The oak floors had been swept, the display cases gleamed, and the entire place had the clean, comfy scent of lemon furniture polish.” Every single button had been meticulously catalogued and put away.
However, now, it is 5 am on Monday morning and everything is different. Every single button is scattered around the shop – on the cases, on the chairs and on the floor.
There are two “giants” in black ski masks who, even before she has a chance to turn on the lights, grab her by the neck, lift her off the floor, shake her, pin back her arms and repeat “Cooperate, and nobody will get hurt.” interspersed with “shut up...you put up a fight and you're dead…” and “…You scream and I'm going to snap your little body in half so fast, you won't know what hit you.” However, they never say exactly what it is they want her to do. [Kate thinks that, maybe, her ex-husband Kaz, a gambler always in debt, has gotten into trouble again.]
At one point one of them drops her. Josie falls to her knees and crawls to the back storage room of the shop. She locks the door, places her worktable against the door, finds the phone [in the dark], and calls 911. By the time the police arrive, the giants are gone.
The police say that she should inventory her button collection and tell them what's missing. However, Josie has to prepare, as well as possible, for Kate's visit. Her assistant, Brina, late as usual [Brina's grandmother begged Josie to give her the job], helps, more or less. They put the buttons away as well as they can in the short time they have. Right near the door are three button hooks –“…old, lovely and valuable…”, one with a silver handle modeled into a swan's head with garnet eyes, one mahogany and one tortoiseshell inlaid with a gold monogram.
Kate arrives with her hierarchical entourage of assistants: Margot is Kate's assistant; Sloan is Margot's assistant; Blake is Sloan's assistant and Wynona is Blake's assistant. The door opens to, finally, admit Kate in a flurry of flashing cameras. The story, and photos, obviously make all the papers.
Kate looks at many buttons and takes some to evaluate further. She and Josie agree that Kate will return a few days later at 8 pm. On the appointed day, Josie goes out in the late afternoon to get dinner, leaving Brina to watch the shop. When Josie comes back with her turkey sandwich, and is near the shop, Mike Homolka, one of the paparazzi, is there. He tries to get an interview but Josie refuses. He leaves and Josie opens the door to the shop. Brina is not there. Once again, there are buttons everywhere. However, in the middle of the buttons on the floor is Kate's body, with the silver-handled buttonhook in her chest. Underneath her body is a beautiful wooden button with a hawk carved on it. It is not part of Josie's collection. Mike Homolka is at the door and takes many photos.
So who killed Kate?
And what does that button have to do with anything?
Was it High Weaver, the Hollywood producer who Kate threw over when she got engaged to Prince Rudolf?
Was it Prince Rudolf, who had Kate investigated [by Giants 1 and 2] and found out that her background was not appropriate for a Princess of Ruritania?
Was it someone looking for Kaz, who made a mistake?
Actually, it was Wynona.
Kate Franciscus's real name was Lois Buck. She grew up in Bent Grove, West Virginia where she was a good student [ribbon for third place in the spelling bee] and a cheerleader. When she graduated from eighth grade, like all children who graduated at that time, she received a set of six hand-carved wooden buttons made by “Granny Maude”. The carvings were different every year; the year Lois graduated, Granny Maude carved hawks. Lois disappeared the summer after graduation. She had been dating Rand Jones and became pregnant. After her daughter was born, she gave the baby to a couple in Bent Grove, who named the child Wynona. Lois then left town. Over the years she transformed herself, with many cosmetic surgeries, into Kate Franciscus. Wynona, after finding out that her mother was Kate Franciscus, went to her, but Kate just laughed at her, wouldn't acknowledge her and, even, fired her, since she obviously could not keep her illegitimate daughter as her assistant.
Then, Wynona killed her.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked the story because the plot was intricate but not confusing, and because it was well written, fast paced, and amusing.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene comes at the end when Wynona tells Josie that she had planned to kill Kate. She thinks that nobody hears her and that she can continue her act in court and she will not be convicted. Then, Nevin Riley comes out with his tape recorder and Wynona becomes hysterical.
Opinion about the main character:
I like Josie because she loves her work, is a hard worker, pays close attention to detail and is loyal to her friends.