Monday, November 23, 2015

Death by Tiara by Laura Levine

Reviewed by Jeanne

Death by Tiara finds the ever-employment challenged Jaine embarking on a new job.  This time she’s writing song lyrics for a contestant in the Miss Teen Queen America pageant.  To be more accurate, she’s  writing the song for the contestant’s mother who is determined that her daughter should pull off the win and seeks to ensure the same by pulling out all the stops.  Daughter Taylor is less than enthused, but quickly forms a bond with Jaine—mostly a bond based on Jaine supplying Taylor with chocolate. 

It soon becomes apparent that the pageant isn’t quite as glamorous as TV would have us believe.  The hotel is a dump, Candace the pageant director would be quite at home as a drill sergeant, and there isn’t anyone deserving of the Miss Congeniality title, to put it mildly.

Things really become nasty after Candace’s assistant ends up dead, beaten to death with—you guessed it—a tiara. 

On a brighter note, Jaine’s relationship with new boyfriend Scott is progressing nicely.  At least until he decides she should meet his parents.  Let’s just say that it does not go well.

No Jaine Austen tale would be complete without dueling (and funny!) emails from her parents, each giving one side of the Great Golf Cart saga, and the appearance of  Prozac, Jaine’s feline diva who makes the beauty contestants look like rank amateurs in comparison.

We have reviewed some earlier titles in this series (Killing Cupid, Pampered to Death).   I enjoyed this one more, either because I was in a mood for funny or because I just knew more of what to expect.  These are fast, funny reads with a feisty heroine.  What makes this series stand out a bit more for me is Jaine’s confidence in herself.  Oh, she may complain about putting on few pounds or not being stylish, but when push comes to shove, Jaine isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.  

If you’re in the market for a madcap, over the top mystery, this is a series to try.  Have a box of chocolates to hand but be careful—it’s easy to get choked when you’re laughing.

(Note: I'm one of those who reads the Author Notes, Prefaces, etc.  and saw that she thanked her agent, Evan Marshall.  I found this interesting since I'd just read one of Marshall's own books, Toasting Tina. I may have imagined it, but it seemed to me there was a similar sense of humor in the books, though Levine's is more exaggerated.)

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