Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Not a Girl Detective by Susan Kandel (Cece Caruso #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great plot and use of Nancy lore
Cons: Over the top collectors, story pacing
The Bottom Line:
Nancy collectors
And a mystery she would love
Make for a good read

Death of a Nancy Drew Collector

Los Angeles resident Cece Caruso has a dream job. She writes biographies of dead mystery authors. Along the way, she seems to get caught up in a mystery or two related to their work. Not a Girl Detective is the second book in the series.

Cece's latest biography is of Carolyn Keene, or more accurately, the women behind the pen name. She's pretty much completed her initial research and has been invited to give the keynote address at the annual Nancy Drew convention being held just down the road in Palm Springs. Even better, she and her friends Lael and Bridget have been offered the use of a vacation home while in the area. Cece's only met Nancy collector Edgar Edwards once, but she won't turn down a free place to stay, especially when it turns out to be as nice as his place is.

Unfortunately, their weekend out is brought to a sobering conclusion when they find Edgar's body in the master bedroom. Combine that with the vandalism that Cece has been experiencing in both Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and you've got a case that would make Nancy proud. Can Cece channel the teen sleuth and find the clues to solve it?

Ok, I confess, I'm a fan of kid's series mysteries. As a result, I was more excited about this book then I was the Perry Mason themed series debut. It did provide plenty of Nancy trivia. Maybe my interest blinded me, but I thought there was just enough of the research to whet the appetite without slowing the story down. I like the way the author used Cece's research to further the story. The biography wasn't just a gimmick but turned into part of the plot. The story itself is a real puzzler. Once again, I didn't figure it out until the satisfying conclusion. The story hit a few snags were the pacing slowed down, but they were fewer then the first in the series.

Cece continues to be an interesting character I enjoy spending time around. Lael and Bridget were better developed in this book then the first one, and I found myself liking them more. And Cece's boyfriend, police detective Peter Gambino is also better fleshed out.

The style has smoothed out as well. While the narration was fine in the first one, I had problems following the dialogue. Here, I had little problem following it.

The biggest drawback is the Nancy Drew fans Cece meets. While designed to be fun and poke fun at obsessive collectors, they go over the top and reach Trekkie status. Trust me, obsessive book collectors aren't really that bad.

This series has a unique premise and some great puzzles, and Not a Girl Detective is a fun entry. I can't wait to see where mystery author biographing takes Cece next.

And if you are interested in more, here are the Cece Caruso Mysteries in order.

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