Nice Girls Finish Last by Sparkle Hayter

Nice Girls Finish Last

November 2014
Recommended for fans of Izzy Spellman, early Stephanie Plum, humorous mysteries
 ★    ★    ★    ★

Curiosity, I remembered, always got me into trouble… Well, it wasn’t just curiosity. Vodka was also involved. But it was mostly curiosity.

Robin is doing her best to turn over a new leaf: there’s a corporate shakeup coming at her job, the 24-hour news station ANN; her hyper-critical Aunt Mo is in town for a religious meeting; and her hopes for a happy love life left town with her post-divorce boyfriend, Eric. So she’s cultivating a Positive Mental Attitude through post-its and biting her lip. I remember the positive mental attitude exhortation: my high school friends and I dubbed ‘PMA’ when we were told to stop being so cynical, and proceeded to use it in place of ‘PMS.’

“I was starting to get very annoyed, but I talked myself down, figuring Fenn hadn’t been out of Betty Ford that long and he was sure to be crabby.”

Unfortunately, trouble has a way of finding Robin. Her gynecologist’s office cancels her evening appointment, and only hours later, the doctor is found dead, handcuffed to his chair and shot. This time she isn’t a suspect, but her Special Reports news boss, Jerry Spurdle, wants her and the team to investigate a possible connection to a local S&M club. Of course, it will mean going undercover.

It’s just the nature of my life that I sleep better at night if I have a good alibi, since this wasn’t the first time I’d had an appointment with someone who later ended up dead. It’s like, my karma or something.

Above all, Hayter makes me chuckle while presenting a murder whodunit with a smart female character. This one is a little more love-life centered than the last, but at least Robin is aware of the issues and balances it out with concerns about her professional opportunities and her friends. And its always bonus that Robin and I share a deep affection for her setting of NYC. The asides on ‘guerrilla art’ are a clever touch, showing a familiarity with the city.

Hayter does a nice job with running jokes, alleviating some of the tension that comes with a murder and job anxiety. Robin’s eccentricities mean that she is vigilant about obscure medical issues–usually discovered through random news reports–and bizarre murder cases, and those stories often provide comic relief. I couldn’t help but laugh:

“‘Take this with you,’ he said, handing me a clipping.
‘You are full of treats today.’
It’s about a guy in England who can’t turn his television off because it makes his monkey crazy. The monkey goes ballistic and starts tearing people’s hair out.’
I know people like that.
‘It makes my monkey crazy,’ I like that phrase,’ Louis said.
He yelled at an indolent PA who was leaning on a pod flirting with a writer. ‘Hey, don’t lean on the furniture,’ he said. ‘It makes my monkey crazy.'”

A recent re-release of the first book in e-edition, coupled with a cold, sent me on a Hayter re-read. It’s been a perfect way to divert myself when I don’t want something deeply introspective, full of metaphor and descriptive language (hello, Acceptance), but want something entertaining, without being stupid or full of tropes. I’m so pleased I could find a like-new book to add to my physical collection–it makes my monkey crazy when books go out of print and I can’t find them again.



About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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