Tuesday, May 08, 2007

As Dead As it Gets by Cady Kalian

As Dead as It Gets by Cady Kalian
Forge, 2006
Mystery; 349 pgs

Started: 04/22/2007
Completed: 04/29/2007
Rating: * (Good +)

First two Sentences: What in the world was the Executive Director of the Creative Artists Union doing in a garter belt and a bra?

But there he was.

Reason for Reading: Sticking with my mood for light and funny mysteries, I decided As Dead As It Gets would be the ideal reading selection. This is one I selected to review for Curled Up With a Good Book.

Comments: Mysteries come in all sizes and flavors, from the comedic to grave or the cozy to the hardboiled. The novel, As Dead as It Gets, definitely falls into the more comedic category. Irma Kalish, whom you might remember as a writer for the hit television shows The Facts of Life and Good Times, and Naomi Gurian team up to write this entertaining, laugh out loud mystery about a investigative journalist turned screenwriter living and working in Hollywood, California.

Maggie Mars has an unquenchable curiosity and a nose for finding trouble, often landing in it knee deep. When the Executive Director of the Creative Artists Union does not show up for an important meeting regarding a new contract, speculation as to his absence fly. Roger Urban is known as a womanizer, but he takes his work seriously and never would have willingly missed the meeting. Maggie, a board member for the union, joins in the search for her mentor and friend. She cannot help but do a little snooping in the process, trying to learn as much as she can about the man. It is a shock to everyone when Roger's body is found in a bathtub of a mansion wearing only a garter belt and a bra.

Asked to join the search committee to help find Roger's replacement, Maggie agrees despite her other weighty obligations, including working on her latest screenplay: the story of a reporter who is determined to investigate the alleged suicide of a friend who she believed was murdered. What better opportunity to make some extra money on the side than to put on her investigative journalist hat again and look into the murder of her colleague, a man she soon learns she knew very little about. She soon finds herself digging for information in the cross-dressing community, the possible rivals for Roger’s job, a long lost relative, and the women he may have spurned. The more she digs, the more anxious someone else becomes, and Maggie soon finds herself a possible target for the killer.

As if that is not enough, Maggie finds her heart torn in two with the re-entry of her ex-boyfriend, Joe Camanetti, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, into her life. She was quite happy with her criminal defense attorney love, Henrik Hudson, after all. Or was she? It is a love triangle to envy, if ever there was one.

Between relationship problems, a looming deadline for a screenplay she is struggling to write, the unwritten articles for her editor in New York, and trying to stay alive, Maggie has a lot to contend with. Her charm and wit may get her through some tough situations, but whether that will be enough is the leading question.

As Dead As It Gets is filled with a cast of colorful and interesting characters from the rich and wealthy to the struggling artists, an eccentric father and a roommate with the latest gossip. Maggie is a sassy and independent woman who knows her mind and is not afraid to take a risk to get the answers she seeks. The authors do a great job of setting up the story and carrying the reader along for the adventure. It is a fast paced novel that will keep the reader guessing right up to the very end . . . And hoping the authors will bring us more of Maggie Mars’ adventures. Originally published on Curled Up With a Good Book © Wendy Runyon, 2007

Favorite Part: The narrative was quite witty and this was a fun book to read. Joe was my favorite of her two love interests (I must have a thing for Italian cops in these mystery books), although Henrick is no slouch.

It is hard to pick a favorite part in this book—there were so many entertaining bits. I especially loved the part where Maggie is mistaken for a hooker. I also liked the way her visit to the abandoned house towards the end of the book played out.

I think that fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series might enjoy this book. It’s much along the same lines and yet different enough not to appear to be a rip off.

Miscellaneous: My luggage arrived on my doorstep at 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning just as I was about to walk out the door. What a relief!

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