Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stilettos and Scoundrels by Laina Turner Molaski

Plot: Presley just lost her job and has one chance at a new one.  Get an interview with a local senator in her hometown for an internet magazine.  Presley has made it a point not to be back much since leaving a decade before.  Not much has changed, her old high school friends are still there living their lives, one of which is having an affair with the senator's wife. No sooner does Presley get to town to start her interview when a shockwave rings out; the senator has been murdered.  Now everyone is a suspect. With the FBI and another female reporter suddenly on the scene, can Presley uncover the killer before they do and save her career, her friends and her hometown?

This is what happens when Murder She Wrote meets Sex and the City. It's brilliant.
The author manages to create a delicate good old fashioned murder mystery, with enough twists to keep you interested, while mixing in some modern moments of laughter.  {the moment of silence for the Prada purse that gets a bullet}  We are reminded more then once that the sharper the shoe, the deadlier the style. As the high heels are a focus throughout the novel. {Did the kill shot happen while in Manolos or Choos?}

Presley is a girl you would want to have on your side if you were battling your way through a sample sale at Dior. Tough, smart and never without style.
Cooper is a rebel with a cause.   And the author managed to make their verbal sparing sizzle without making it cheesy.

There is a scene near the beginning of the novel, where our lead Presley catches the senator's wife doing something she might be suspect for, and up pops the character of Presley's dad to throw you in another direction.  The slight of hand here is perfect with it's timing that for the next few chapters you start to suspect even her dad is part of the crimes that seem to be piling up around her.

The character(s) of her mother's women's group, are an interesting puzzle of their own. It lends itself to have a very Stepford Wives feel to it, drawing you around another possible twist. These were characters I would have loved to have seen more of, such as the character of Ruth;  if for nothing but the fact the author hints at more deep dark secrets.
So many personalities collide throughout, weaving us back and forth within a pool of doubt. Giving us a glimpse at a place that could be the suburbs of any major city.

The love triangles here are many.  Presley starts the story off with having just dumped a cheating boyfriend, returns to her hometown to be set up by her mother with her high school boyfriend, then falls in love with another ex-boyfriend.
We are then delivered into a maze of who is having an affair with who as the senator's wife is revealed to be unfaithful, at the same time as the now dead senator's mistresses pop up.

The idea that the best way to get to the bottom of a news story is still gossip, opens up the chance to have a few scenes set in both a beauty parlor and a coffee shop. These add a depth of warmth to the idea that we are indeed in a small town.  Which, also gives Presley the chance to indulge in another vice all good reports have; coffee. I would love a coffee count on this story. There is even a small instance where coffee is the weapon of choice.

The only downfall I felt the author gave was with the character of Katy. The hometown best friend of the lead Presley.  Katy starts off as a force to be reckoned with only to become a castoff near the last act. You're left wondering what happened to this character, both in the story and in "her life".

I understand this is the first book in a new series by the author, and personally can not wait to get my hands on the next installment.

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