Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Dead and the Beautiful by Cheryl Crane

This is Book 3 in this author’s “Nikki Harper” series. After enjoying the previous book in this series I was looking forward to this one. Happily, it did not disappoint. I normally enjoy cozy mysteries and, while the setting for this story was not in a small town, it had many elements of a cozy mystery. The main character and amateur sleuth is Nikki Harper – real estate broker and daughter of legendary actress Victoria Bordeaux. The victim in this story is Ryan Melton. He is only famous for being the husband of actress Diara Elliott. Victoria and Diara are currently working on the same TV show. Nikki gets involved because the chief suspect for police is dog walker to the wealthy and famous, Alison Sahira. She is the sister of Nikki’s boyfriend. She is also a mother trying to retain custody of her teenage daughter and of a slightly nervous temperament. Although never particularly close, Nikki doesn’t believe Alison is a murderess and that she needs somebody to be in her corner. Her empathy comes from drawing a parallel between Alison’s situation she currently finds herself, and an incident in Nikki’s past. Her constant defense of Alison is a source of contention between Nikki and her boyfriend Jeremy. He has trouble believing his sister because of criminal activity in her past. It’s not so much what part she played in what happened long ago that bothers him, but that she lied about it. As with the previous book, I loved Victoria. She is such a class act, and I love her relationship with Nikki and also what she brings to the story. I also like Nikki’s hot but gay movie star buddy Marshall Thunder. He is a fun character and a great friend. I like how the author once again makes it seem plausible that Nikki would get involved in this murder case, and her ability to get information from witnesses. Nikki’s status and connections really come in handy in this case, since the main players in the murder mystery are Hollywood movers and shakers. The mystery itself kept me guessing and kept me interested from start to finish. Nikki is very relatable, likable, and grounded, in spite of her privileged background. I loved the chemistry between her and Lieutenant Detective Tom Dombrowski, or as Nikki refers to him – Detective Cutie-Pants. It’s not that I really dislike her current boyfriend. I just feel like she has more chemistry with Tom, so I’m hoping they might be a couple in the future. The resolution to the mystery was interesting and satisfying. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

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