Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pretty, Hip & Dead (Agnes Barton and Kimberly Steele Mystery #1) by Madison Johns

Title: Pretty, Hip and Dead
Author: Madison Johns
Published: February 2014
Published By: Outrageous Books
Format Read: Kindle for PC, eBook
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date Read: August 22 2015
Rating: 1/5

Kimberly Steele is the new spokes model with a lotion line for pregnant women. Unfortunately the ex-girlfriend of her new husband also models for the same company advertising its release of a perfume and the two women are stuck together doing photo-shoots. After an altercation that lands Clare in the lake, Kimberly visits her house to try to make amends. There she finds the woman dead and in turn becomes the number one suspect. Knowing his wife is innocent lawyer Jeremy hires two elderly private investigators: Agnes Barton and Eleanor Mason to solve the crime and clear Kimberly’s name. Pretty, Hip & Dead is a crossover story involving Kimberly and Agnes from Madison Johns Pretty and Pregnant novella. 

For a supposedly humorous cozy mystery, Pretty, Hip & Dead sure makes for a tough story to review.  I struggled with how I would write this and what approach I should take. I am not one to totally rip an author apart when I don’t like a story. However I believe that it is important to write and share honest reviews. 

With the internet and eBooks, there are so many opportunities for authors to expose their writing to larger audiences, which is wonderful. I love to be able to support independent authors, especially when the quality of their work could rival those who are top sellers. However these broader exposures and alternative publishing options doesn’t always mean the quality of the stories are top notch. Often there is a lack of editing and/or structure that results in low ratings. There are also times when an eBook may have some spelling and grammar issues, but the plot and characters are strong enough for the reader to overlook the errors. I had hoped this would be the case for Pretty, Hip & Dead, but unfortunately it was not.

The idea of a murder involving rival models sounds like it would be promising. I was also drawn to it because of the two older women investigators. Madison Johns writes in a note from the author that even though this is a crossover from a previous novella, it can be read as a standalone. This pleased me as I hadn’t read the previous story nor had I ever read anything else by her.

However as I began reading it was clear that I was missing some key information about Kimberly’s past and how she came to know her new husband Jeremy. Readers learn that she worked for him, yet there are hints that he married her to save her modeling contract. Then in another part he claims he married her because he fell in love with her, meanwhile he had previously proposed to the murder victim Clare. This is just one example out of many that show how unclear story line is. 

The mystery itself had very little structure and the dialogue was hard to follow. The main character came across as an airhead and very na├»ve, qualities that I assume were meant to come across as humorous. The investigators Agnes and Eleanor didn’t seem to possess any qualities worthy of the position whatsoever, which lead to the crime not really being solved, but admitted to by the murderer. 

In the end I found myself more frustrated than entertained. I definitely won’t be continuing on with this series, nor would I recommend it to anyone.

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