Book Highlight: All Dressed Up by Jilly Gagnon

all dressed up jilly gagnon

Title: All Dressed Up

Author: Jilly Gagnon

Publisher: Bantam

Publication Date: September 6, 2022

Genre: Mystery

The weekend getaway at a gorgeous hotel should have been perfect. But Becca is smarting from her husband Blake’s betrayal and knows that the trip is just an expensive apology attempt. Still, the drinks are strong, and the weekend has an elaborate 1920s murder mystery theme. She decides to get into the spirit and enjoy their stay. 

Before long, the game is afoot: Famed speakeasy songstress Ida Crooner is found “murdered,” and it’s up to the guests to sniff out the culprit. Playing the role of Miss Debbie Taunte, an ingenue with a dark past, Becca dives into the world of pun-heavy clues, hammy acting, and secret passages, hoping to take her mind off her marital troubles.

Then, the morning after they arrive, the actress playing Ida’s maid fails to reappear for her role. Everyone assumes she flaked out on the job, but when snooping for clues as “Debbie,” Becca finds evidence that the young woman may not have left of her own free will.

Told over a nail-biting forty-eight hours and interspersed with in-game clues, set pieces, and character histories from the flapper-filled mystery nested inside a modern one, All Dressed Up is a loving tribute to classic whodunits and a riveting exploration of the secrets we keep.

Why This Book

All Dressed Up is about a marriage on the rocks and the murder mystery weekend the couple gets away to in a last ditch attempt to patch themselves back up. While this was quite amusing with the contrived mystery and terrible acting on the part of the staff (not to mention all the guest couples who went back and forth between their personas for the weekend and who they really were the whole time), the actual mystery and the story of the couple trying to save their marriage didn’t quite work with the idea behind the weekend.

Fortunately, when there are problems, there is alcohol. While the wife, Becca, spends a good bit of her time at the bar, chatting up another couple, the husband of yet another couple seems to be perpetually drunk. It was fascinating and sad watching him deteriorate over the two days, but it was also confusing with how much time Becca spent at the bar.


My review: “All Dressed Up had so much promise. There are so many good pieces that just didn’t work well together, making it feel like it was trying to bite off more than it could chew. The characters felt like cardboard cutouts, the marriage story was pushed and pulled in and out of the spotlight in a way that felt uneven. The mysteries were poorly meshed. There was simply too much going on”

Tessa Talks Books gave this 3 stars, saying “The story is told in first-person narration through Becca’s eyes. Unfortunately, Becca tends to obsess – first on her husband’s infidelity and then on the missing staff member. That obsession gets very hard to sit in as the reader. It overwhelmed my ability to immerse myself in the story entirely, and I wanted to immerse myself so that I could enjoy the weekend vicariously”

Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored gave this a 3, saying “Considering how intriguing the plot is All Dressed Up fails to live up to its potential. Much of the beginning is given over to Becca’s mental state and equally the state of her marriage. So much exposition weighed the novel down, making it frequently tedious”

Reading with My Eyes gave this 2 stars, saying “I think this book has a good mystery in that is buried deep in mediocrity and a bad mystery. We only see glimpses of the real mystery at the end. The climax was not bad and the only highlight of this novel. The dialogue was bad in a lot of spots and hard to tell some characters apart since they sounded so similar”

Unravel the Story rated this a 3.25, saying “One fourth of the way, I was already losing interest because of Becca. I wished Jilly Gagnon focused more on the event itself and not the drama happening between Blake and Becca. Throughout the first hundred pages or so, Becca assumed that her husband has been cheating again and was ready to explode every fifteen minutes. Personally, I think it was a mess and could have been left out altogether. It really didn’t help the story at all”

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Kobo | Target | Walmart | Powell’s | Audible | Google Books | Abe Books | Scribd | Books-A-Million | | !ndigo (Canada) | Book Depository | Flipkart (India) | SoundCloud | Glose | Dotters Books | The Poison Pen | One More Page Books | Copper Dog Books | Audiobooks

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book highlight all dressed up jilly gagnon

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