Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: Dating is Murder by Harley Jane Kozak (Wollie Shelley #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Sympathetic characters and a good plot once it gets going
Cons: The plot moves slowly in the first half
The Bottom Line:
Overcomes slow start
With the mysteries of dating
Crime complications

Wollie and the Missing Au Pair

Greeting card artist Wollie Shelley thought she finally had her life all figured out. But then her fiance left her to recover from a very broken heart.

In an attempt to get her out of her funk, Wollie's two friends get her a spot on BIOLOGICAL CLOCK, a Los Angeles based reality dating show where America will pick one couple to potentially have kids. Wollie is only interested in it for the medical benefits for the winner, however.

It's on the set that Wollie meets Annika, a German au pair who is a volunteer member of the show's crew. The two become friends, until one day when Annika disappears.

Annika's mom frantically calls Wollie asking for help, so what can Wollie do but try to find the young woman. She starts with Annika's host family and then begins branching out to other au pairs and friends Annika has made during her time in Southern California. No one has seen her and no one knows where she might be. And everyone seems to be giving Wollie different information about Annika. Was she really into drugs? Did she have a criminal past in Germany?

Wollie's hardly begun digging into the case when she picks up a tail. But the most disturbing thing about him is, Wollie finds him incredibly attractive.

After reading Harley Jane Kozak's debut novel, I couldn't wait to pick up her second book. While the first book started off with a bang, this one starts much slower. Last time I complained that I had a hard time keeping all the characters straight, which wasn't a problem this time around. However, the pace in the first half was a little slow. The plot does kick into high gear in the second half and it was hard to put down after that.

Fortunately, the characters are strong, and that helps keep the entire book interesting. Wollie is a very vulnerable character in this book, dealing with her break-up as well as her desire for a child before she no longer can have one. Yet she is strong in her search for Annika, plunging ahead even though there really isn't anything in it for her. Her friends support her and do always have her interests at heart even if Wollie doesn't think so at the moment. I actually liked them better then in the first book.

The book is also liberally laced with humor. The first person narration provides lots of laughs from Wollie's slightly sarcastic observations on the proceedings. And Wollie's Thanksgiving with her family provides lots of laughs as well.

While the first half drags at times, Dating is Murder is still an enjoyable second entry in what will hopefully be a long running series. I'm already planning on another date with Wollie.

And be sure to read the Wollie Shelley Mysteries in order.

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