Die Job Mass Market Paperback – Jan 3 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is the third entry in the Southern Beauty Shop series and it was quite an enjoyable "cozy" read. The mystery was nicely thought out and there were plenty of clues and viable suspects, so if you are an armchair sleuth you'll probably enjoy trying to solve the crime. This book was lighter on the domestic details than its predecessors though, which might disappoint some readers. Since the victim is a High School student there is a lot of focus on teen issues and adolescent angst, but the setting does give Grace's "sleuthing" a more plausible feel. The story flows smoothly, the dialog is nicely done and the characters are well developed with one glaring exception: Grace's ex-husband. For some reason the author has made him a complete buffoon. He's dumb as a stump, a bumbling cop, insensitive and just plain clueless. Makes me wonder why Grace married him in the first place...
Bottom Line: This series takes place in a small, touristy beach community in Georgia. The protagonist, Grace, is a 30 something hairdresser who moves back to her hometown after her divorce. She works at a salon owned by her mother and her amateur sleuthing keeps throwing her in the path of an attractive GBI agent. Some "cozy" mysteries straddle the line between "cozy" and Mystery/Thriller, but this is NOT one of those. This series is all about the characters and the domestic details...which is fine with me!
No strong language or sexual content.
Book One: Tressed to Kill (Southern Beauty Shop)
Book Two: Polished Off (Southern Beauty Shop)
Book Three: Die Job
I really enjoyed this book. The author combines several appealing elements to tell an interesting story. There is a little bit of Southern charm in the setting of the homey beauty salon with a possibly haunted mansion on top of that. I also love the camaraderie of the main characters Grace and her mother Violetta who owns the salon as well as the other employees of the shop, including family friend Althea Jenkins. It's nice to see such a diverse group of friends in terms of age and ethnic background of the characters and especially to see a healthy relationship between Grace and Violetta. So many cozies have the stereotypical overbearing, intolerable mother and while Violetta isn't above giving Grace hints in the romance department, she does so in a pleasant, loving manner. Grace loves and respects her mother and I liked the part of the book when Grace isn't sure what to say to comfort another character, she thinks about how her mom would handle the situation to guide her.
Grace and Violetta's co-workers in the shop are supportive friends and add to the enjoyment of the story. Althea is a strong, no-nonsense character and when she and Grace team up to do some investigating, the results are very entertaining. Rachel is a hard-worker and a caring, compassionate young women and it's great to see a teenager being portrayed in this way.
Fairly predictably, there is chemistry between Grace and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent investigating the case. However, complicating any possible romance between the charming John Dillon and Grace is Marty. Grace had recently started dating Marty when he took a job out of state, but it's soon to count out him out. From what I can see, either would be a good match for Grace. It's so refreshing that the heroine has two possible love interests that are both great guys.
Grace feels partially responsible for Braden's condition since she was one of the chaperones and investigation and she makes a capable detective as she investigates the incident at the Rothmere mansion. While Grace investigates, the town of St. Elizabeth, Georgia braces itself for a hurricane that sends many people evacuating. In the meantime, Grace is also doing some investigating into what really happened to Cyril Rothmere. Through her research, Grace gets attached to Clarissa, the long-deceased daughter of Cyril, by reading original letters from the Rothmere estate. This sub-plot is very touching and shows Grace to be a sensitive, caring person and also ties into her investigation of what happened to Braden. There are several clues throughout the book that hinted at the true story of who would want to kill Braden, but I was kept guessing until the very end. There is an unexpected twist at the end that was a pleasant surprise that really added to the story. The book also included several skin care tips at the end in keeping with the beauty salon theme.
Fans of Anne George will appreciate this series by Lila Dare. "Die Job" is the third book in the series, but I had no problem figuring out who's who and connecting with the delightful characters. However, I will be looking up the prior books in this Southern Beauty Shop mystery series to catch up on what I missed and look forward to the next installment in this delightful series.
This review was originally written for The Season EZine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Warning: Don't read any more if you don't want possible spoilers.
I did find it a bit hard to believe at how many men were interested in Grace. It was a little distracting, actually.
As much as I enjoyed most of this mystery, the profanity left a bitter aftertaste. I don't understand why a cozy mystery author feels the need to add this. I can't imagine someone refusing to read a cozy because it didn't have enough profanity. There is a time and place for everything, and some of the words used seem out of place in this otherwise cozy mystery.
The thing that brought this review down from a 4-star was found on pg of 211 of the paperback that I read. Catelyn states that she is a sophomore at UVa. The likelihood of her saying this is akin to the probabiliy of running into your next-door neighbor while touring a monastery during your vacation in Nepal . . . almost nil. We Cavaliers are informed, before we even arrive on campus, that we are First-Years, Second-Years, etc. Never, never "Freshmen", "Sophomores", etc. We are inordinately proud of this little quirk of ours. :)
Grace is guilted into serving as a chaperone on Rachel's class trip to the local haunted plantation. While trying to conjure up a ghost, one of the teenagers is attacked and winds up in a coma. At Rachel's request, Grace investigates the incident and finds herself neck-deep in teenage angst, juvenile delinquency, and family secrets, all while a hurricane bears down on the coast of Georgia.
I warred with how to rate this book. On one hand, this is a well-crafted mystery and the writing is high quality. However, the story was much darker than I expected it to be and is a bit lacking when compared to the first two books.
The mystery is first rate and, even though all the clues are there, I was surprised by the identity of the villain. I was convinced it was someone else. One of the things I appreciated in Lila Dare's other books (but didn't recognize for a little while after having read them) is her ability to set the mood of a scene. She knows how to write funny, happy, and "cozy" scenes and appropriately somber scenes when it comes to the death of another person. In this book, Ms. Dare builds the ominous, oppressive atmosphere of a town preparing for a hurricane so well that I could almost feel the wind kicking up and see the sky start to dim.
However, other than a few random chuckles, the humor present in the other books is absent in this one. The subject matter and setting was just so gloomy for me. Of course, this attests to the author's talent, but I was looking for something more to lighten up the story. Part of the charm in the previous tales is also missing. There's very little about the quaint, alluring Southern beach town that I fell in love with in the first two stories. And, while Violetta and Althea are in the story, the maternal spunkiness that was "Violetta's Vigilantes" is missing somehow.
In the end, this is a really good mystery but is missing some of the character of the first two books.