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Purses and Poison (Haley Randolph Mysteries) Hardcover – June 30, 2009

29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the outset of Howell's sprightly sequel to 2008's Handbags and Homicide, handbag-obsessed 24-year-old Haley Randolph is working part-time at L.A.'s Holt's Department Store, owned by her quasi-boyfriend, Ty Cameron, to pay back the debt she's accumulated—buying designer handbags and clothes, of course. When fashion model Claudia Gray, Ty's former girlfriend, turns up dead in a women's restroom at Holt's, the police soon determine that Claudia ate poisoned fruit from a fruit bouquet from Edible Elegance, Haley's mom's company, sent to the victim. To eliminate her mom as a murder suspect as well as herself, Haley launches her own investigation while dealing with her relationship with Ty and another new boyfriend. While some readers may decide the author ends too many chapters with the exclamation Oh, crap, Howell has concocted a solid mystery sure to appeal to younger, fashion-conscious mystery fans. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Sex and the City" meets "Murder She Wrote" in Dorothy Howell's latest mystery, in which fashion sleuth Haley Randolph returns for another murderous romp with the stylish set at Holt's Department Store, where she discovers a dead fashion model who's been poisoned! "A treat for those with passion for fashion. No doubt this sassy heroine's in for a long run." Kirkus Reviews." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Haley Randolph Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; First Edition edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758223765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758223760
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,207,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dorothy Howell is the author of 35 published novels. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages with sales approaching 5 million copies worldwide.

She currently writes for two publishing houses, in two genres, under two names.

Dorothy writes the hilarious fashion sleuth Haley Randolph mystery series, available from Kensington Books. She introduces her newest sleuth in the Dana Mackenzie series.

Dorothy also writes historical romance novels under the pen name Judith Stacy. Her titles include a Harlequin Historical Top Seller for the Year, a No.1 on the Barnes & Noble Historical List, and a RITA Award Finalist.

Dorothy is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Like her Dorothy Howell Novels Facebook page. Follow her on Twitter @DHowellNovels. Visit and

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By JerseyGirl Yvonne VINE VOICE on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Dorothy Howell's first Haley Randolph mystery, Handbags and Homicide, but this latest left a bit to be desired.

Haley becomes the prime suspect in a murder that happens at the department store where she "works", Holts. I say works very lightly, since Haley attempts at every chance to find a way of not working while she is at Holts.

I thought Haley was portrayed as just a bit too zany and not very bright in this mystery. Although I did enjoy the mystery of who killed the the pageant director. However, I think Haley comes across as just too silly in this story and the story did not capture my attention as did Handbags and Homicide. This is a quick, but not altogether enjoyable read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By G. Beaverson on February 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed and reviewed the first in the series giving it 5 stars. But this one I could not even finish. Why did I buy it in hardcover? Haley was so whiney and kept lying, lying, lying. I know her lies added to the development of the storyline, but after a very few short pages, I couldn't take it anymore. I at least felt I understood her in the first outing. In this one, she was just too irritating to continue. Don't think I will give the 3rd installment a try in hardcover or paperback.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Meledstick on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I liked the first in this series, HANDBAGS & HOMICIDE, but this one was nowhere near as good. Haley came across as not very likeable, and not too bright. I liked her before. The mystery was pretty good, but Haley not so much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gina Hott on October 4, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First, I can promise that I'd be staring at a waitress that has on sunglasses. And, if I was already staring at her, I'm sure I'd notice that she had on a wig. Even a good one - which this one probably wasn't because according to Haley the stuff is way below her.

Second, the book is told in first person & I hated it! Haley says - I hate __ but it's __ fault. Grrr. Or she says, I did this, well, not really. It's really quite annoying.

Third, she's really a bit slow. I mean it. She's a complete ditz - so how did she solve that first murder? Yeah, I don't think so.

It wasn't a terrible book, but for me, this is not something enjoyable at this point in my life... maybe as a pre-teen I would have enjoyed it...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Corduroy on November 20, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read the first novel in the series earlier this year. I don't recall the exact time frame and decided I would try another title in the series. I classify this type of book as "light and fluffy" and I sometimes can enjoy the fun moments in a light read. However, I didn't enjoy this novel beginning on the opening page of Chapter 2 and unfortunately retain that opinion as I finished it.

A few paragraphs into Chapter 2, the main character, Haley Randolph says, "I pointed to a heavyset woman wearing jeans and a man's T-shirt. I picked her because she looked like a lesbian, and you can always count on a lesbian in a crisis." WoW! I realize this isn't a 2014 copyright but I don't think this was appropriate in 2009 either. I believe there are usually multiple individuals that read an author's manuscript as it moves through the phases to published novel and I'm very disappointed that even if the author didn't have the good sense to remove these sentences that someone giving it one of those first reads didn't push for the removal. I have the same opinion when someone still describes a librarian with her hair up in a bun, telling everyone to shhhhhh! AND her glasses are falling down on her nose. Enough! These types of stereotype characterizations are NOT appropriate and they need to stop. I like to think of authors as helping the world to become a better place, to open minds, and to open new possibilities. I can characterize too, and Haley Randolph is a not a character that I want to spend more time with as reading time is precious and there are many other possibilities to explore!

Other copy editing needs:
Last paragraph of Chapter 3:
"I know you're nervous, but don't worry." Ty grasped by arm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Bell on January 16, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Haley Randolph is back. The good news is she hasn't changed a bit. She's still a purse junkie, still pretty and charming, still a loyal friend,and still clever enough to find a killer. The bad news is she hasn't changed a bit. She's lazy, unfocused, a bad employee, a horrible student, a habitual liar and fantasizer, and a truly bad driver who must have a guardian angel preventing her from killing herself and a carload of others. She attracts men without much difficulty including an engineer from her father's firm and a reporter, but she's not sure where she stands with Ty, owner of the chain of stores where she "works"and her "sort-of boyfriend," whose ex-girlfriend may be back in the picture. As an insurance agent and the understanding mother of a Kohl's assistant manager, I should despise her, but I don't. I like her and wish her well. Her heart is kind and her intelligence is sharp, when she chooses to use it. And she performs an amazing act of kindness at the end of the book which which I didn't see coming.

At an affair for Holt's employees, for which her mother's Elegant Edibles (in which her mother, a woman even shallower than Haley, has zero interest whatever) has provided fruit baskets with chocolate name tags, she feels sorry for a young server who is sick and volunteers to cover for her. But the fashion coordinator of the event, an old girl friend of her "sort-of boyfriend" Ty, is found dead--poisoned by the contents of her fruit basket. Haley and her mother become suspects in both her death and the disappearance of the server.

On top of that, Evelyn, who is the guardian of Haley's settlement from the previous book, refuses to give her $2000 for a Judith Leiber crystal evening purse (with a satin lining and a keepsake bag!
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