Sunday, 13 September 2015

Not just any ordinary detective but ...

Phones, light typing ... and murder.

Think breaking into show business is hard?  Try landing a temp job without office skills.  That's the challenge facing aspiring actress Isobel Spice when she arrives in New York City, fresh out of college and deficient in PowerPoint.  After being rejected by seven temp agencies for her lack of experience, Isobel sweet-talks recruiter James Cooke into letting her cover a last-minute vacancy at a ban,  New to his own job, and recently sober, James takes a chance on Isobel, despite his suspicion that she's a trouble-magnet.  His misgivings are borne out by lunchtime, when she stumbles across a dead secretary in a bathroom stall.  With her finger prints on the murder weapon, Isobel sets out to prove her innocence by investigating the crime herself.  While learning to juggle phone lines and auditions, she discovers an untapped talent for detective work - a qualification few other office temps, let alone actresses, can claim.

To enjoy this book one does have to suspend belief to a certain degree.  But it is rather an interesting setting for this new series of crime dramas - if only all temp jobs were this interesting!

The prose is witty, charming and stylistic, as is Isobel Spice, an aspiring musical actress who is earning a crust while waiting for those all-important auditions hoping that one would lead to her ideal job.  The auditions add an interesting dimension to this whole reading experience.

I enjoyed the interplay between Isobel and James Cook, her temp agent.  Their exchanges are engaging and cleaver.  The characters are given great depth (even in this first book) and are interesting.  Isobel is innocent, likeable and vivacious; she is a recent New York plant.  In contrast, James is more cynical, and has more than a few demons; he is also harbouring a few feelings for his new temp.  When James eventually reveals his demons to Isobel, she accepts them without so much as an eyelid bat; in fact she even defends him in a certain situation.  (It is refreshing to find one of the key characters dealing with a real life problem an how this affects their life and other’s perceptions of them.)

The characters are engaging and it is nice to see that they are not perfect.  Isobel’s propensity to put her mouth into action before she puts her brain in to gear gets her into plenty of hot water but it is quite refreshing.  Even the secondary characters are given the same treatment as the main characters.  All of whom are imaginative and colourful and each has their own detailed background.  Too often authors do not spend enough time with the supporting cast of characters but here the author has paid attention to detail in every way.

I will not go into the story line itself but just rest assured that not everything is plain sailing and there are some cringe worthy and laugh out loud moments during the duration of this novel.  There were plenty of plot twists which were confounding and quirky (like our main character.

Unlike many crime mystery books which have become very formulaic, this series sees the author bring an exciting fresh take to the genre like a breath of fresh air and is very much welcomed by this reader.  I will certainly be looking for more books not only in this series but also by this author.  Not lease because I want to see how the relationship between Isobel and James pan out and whether Isobel eventually gets her dream job.

If you want to read a new, engaging, entertaining and highly delightful novel then you NEED to read this one.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley and 'I liked it' on Goodreads (3 stars) and Amazon (4 stars).

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