Friday, December 25, 2015

Review: Dead Gorgeous: A Mystery for D. I. Costello

by Elizabeth Flynn

Kirsty Manners is young and beautiful, perfect as a model for still photos. She works as a receptionist and in-house model for Ivano King, one of the world's top fashion designers. But after two years on a downward swing, King is rumored to be on the way out. He hopes this year's radical late change in designs will put him back to the top. Kirsty is also his current mistress, much to the displeasure of his jealous head stitcher, Eleanor Chandler. Kirsty's flatmate, Sandra Hodges, is also jealous because the man she covets is spellbound by Kirsty. And Kirsty gives enough encouragement to keep him that way.

Then Kirsty is found murdered, and Detective Inspector Angela Costello is assigned the case. The investigation takes Angela deep into the tangled relationships and rivalries of the fashion world. What exactly was Kirsty's position in the firm? Was she too ambitious? And if so, in what direction? Who was the mysterious woman Kirsty spoke with at that fashion reception two months before her murder? What is the relationship between the King organization and the sometimes shadowy Massingham's model agency? The investigation expands, and Angela finds herself investigating Massingham's, too.
The author moves through exposition of these complexities at a relaxed pace, building a bit here and a bit more there, as Angela gradually gathers enough information to form a coherent picture with only a few critical pieces missing. The emerging picture suggests a web of intrigue extending well beyond the question of Kirsty's murder. Angela's trap to make the final pieces fit into place brings the narrative to a thrilling climax and satisfying denouement.  The novel is highly recommended for readers who like quiet mysteries with carefully woven narratives.
  Reviewed by Donn Taylor, author of Lightning on a Quiet Night, Rhapsody in Red, etc.

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