Sunday, May 12, 2019



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.

Book Details:

Title: Staging is Murder

Author: Grace Topping

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: A Laura Bishop Mystery, book 1

Publisher: Henery Press (April 30, 2019)

Print length: 268 pages


Frequently, you’ll hear that setting is very important in a story. In Staging is Murder, the story opens at Vocaro’s Coffee Shop, and a number of important scenes are set there. Since the story is about a professional home stager and not a coffee shop owner, you might ask, why a coffee shop setting?

Vocaro’s serves as a crossroads in the Louiston community and becomes a vital part of the story. It’s a place where various characters in the book can interact without the meetings being contrived. My characters Laura Bishop and Nita Martino meet there each workday before heading to their respective jobs. It gives them the opportunity to exchange information about the murder investigation they are involved with. Without this place for them to meet naturally and catch up, as the author, I would have to have them talking on the phone or meeting at places that might require coordination.

The coffee shop also enables Laura to cross paths with other characters in the book that she wouldn’t ordinarily run into. For example, she runs into Monica Heller, her nemesis from her school days—someone she would love to avoid. We can see immediately that Monica is going to be an antagonist to Laura, and sure enough she becomes a continuing thorn in her side.

The coffee shop also serves as a place of employment for Tyrone Webster, a young college student who is a wealth of information about what is going on in the community—information that he collects working there and shares with Laura. Tyrone is a very personable young man, and people readily share information with him. He knows more about what is going on in town than the mayor. Since he works part time for Laura, the information he shares with her helps in her investigation of the murder of a local homeowner.

People stop at the coffee shop and sometimes stay for hours. Luigi Vocaro, the owner of the coffee shop, describes his shop as his customers’ “third” place—that place, following their home and worksite, where they can feel welcome, comfortable, and connected.

Come join us in Staging is Murder and discover what a pleasure it is to have a third place. Do you have a “third” place?


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.

Connect with Grace:

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