Saturday, August 27, 2011

Toni's Review of The Bad Always Die Twice ***3.5 Stars***




In the first of a wildly entertaining mystery series set amid the bright lights, big egos, and Botoxed brows of Hollywood, Cheryl Crane—daughter of legendary movie star Lana Turner—introduces a smart, hilarious, and utterly loveable heroine in realtor-turned-amateur sleuth, Nikki Harper.

For Nikki Harper, realtor to the stars and daughter of 1950s screen goddess Victoria Bordeaux, Hollywood is home. A completely dysfunctional home populated by a cast of crazies, true, but home nonetheless. While Nikki's no stranger to scandal, she's shocked to receive a hysterical phone call from her business partner, Jessica Martin, saying that TV has-been Rex March has been found dead in Jessica's bed.

More shocking than Rex's death is the fact that, as far as anyone knew, Rex was already dead. Six months ago, the star of the seventies sitcom Shipwrecked Vacation was supposedly killed when his plane crashed in the Mojave Desert. Nikki and Jessica recently sold his mansion on behalf of his widow, Edith. It's obvious to Nikki that Jessica is being framed, but by whom? And why? And how on earth can Rex be dead a second time?

In search of answers, Nikki turns to the one person she can always count on. From her pink boudoir in her Beverly Hills mansion, the ever-glamorous Victoria suggests Nikki focus her sleuthing on Rex's not-so-grieving widow. And there's a veritable casting couch full of other candidates, including Edith's boy-toy lover, Rex's scheming lawyer (like there's any other kind), and the diner waitress with whom Rex was having one of his numerous affairs. But with the killer readying for a repeat performance, Nikki will have to act fast—before her own screen fades to black. . .

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Mystery is normally not my normal read, but I thought I would dip my toes into the water anyways. I was very pleasantly surprised! While mystery will not likely be my favorite genre, I did enjoy The Bad Always Die Twice. With every page I had a new suspect in my head and Ms. Crane kept me guessing all the way up to the end.

Not too many people missed Rex March when he died the first time around and even less the second time. He was a philanderer and the world basically said good riddance. He was a one hit wonder who was living off an old 1970’s family comedy. Ego is the only thing Rex had and he had that in abundance. His first death was ruled as a freak accident, but his second was murder. It’s up to Nikki Harper to figure out who did it, because she knows her friend Jessica sure didn’t do it.

Nikki is the daughter of the fifties screen goddess, actress Victoria Bordeaux. Always in her mother shadow, Nikki is just fine with that and enjoys her life as a real estate agent to the stars. Being the daughter of the actress does have its perks though and sales are one of them.

Jessica Martin is a known man eater. She is a love them and use them type, not a murderer. So when Jessica comes home after a daylong real estate seminar and finds Rex, dead in her bed, she calls her best friend Nikki for support and help.

Suspects are endless; Edith March – the wife, Thompson Christopher - the wife’s new boy toy, Alex Ramirez - the slimy lawyer, Tiffany Mathews - the young jilted lover and countless others. Nikki has her hands full discovering the truth.

The Bad Always Die Twice is a well written mystery. Ms. Crane will keep you guessing and I enjoyed how she intertwined current events and celebrities into her story. I’m not sure if it was Ms. Crane’s intention, but the constant noting of product name dropping, stood out to me. It said to me that L.A. was extremely materialistic and in the end almost was a subplot all its own.

I really enjoyed the interaction between Nikki and her mother, Victoria. She made Victoria a real person to me. While Victoria was all glimmer and glamour, I relished in her human side. I had several laugh out loud moments with her antics. I can see myself continuing to read about Nikki’s adventures just to see what her mother is up to.

The Bad Always Die Twice is a decadent decent into the underbelly of glamorous Hollywood. Gossip is never ending and secrets never stay hidden for long. So grab a drink and put on your Jimmy Choos, because you want to be styling when you step into Ms. Crane’s world.

Thanks for reading - Toni

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