Six Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’ fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.
When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy. So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.
The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.
Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.
In the words of the author this book is “urban-noir/paranormal-lite/mystery/romance mash up” and I would add PI in the mix, and a great mix it is too. This is a great contemporary feel good romp that had me smiling and laughing out loud. The characters are quirky, flawed and very very real. I had visions of Tom Selleck’s Magnum PI as the male protagonist, the female lead – hmm, maybe a young tough version of Rachel Griffiths works for me I think. (And when I am reading I don’t usually visualise the characters but I did with this book!)
This is a book you read for the pure pleasure, indulgence and enjoyment. The language is colloquial and so very Australian – so conversational and real. The settings – dark dingy bars, rural towns, urban decay, a mortuary, a brothel and the next door home office all work a treat; they seem so real I recognise all of these places from previous lives (yes I worked next door to a brothel once upon a time –outer city, next door to a welfare rights organisation, just looked like an ordinary house – though the limousines that stopped out the front weren’t too ordinary!) The crimes – kidnapping and murder handled respectfully and lightly – there are no gruesome, blood soaked walls covered in brain splatter here, no psychopaths or serial killers lurking in the dark. Surprisingly you even end up feeling a little sorry for those involved in these crimes, the choices they made were terrible but you can understand, though not condone, their action. There is nothing black and white in this story – so many shades of grey.
At its core this is an urban romance so be prepared for a few hot and steamy sex scenes.
I think the strength of this book is the author’s ability to present characters that are so realistic and likeable, even the minor characters in this book are well drawn, quirky and with back stories that engage and leave you asking to know more about them. I particularly liked the power given to Eve to run a brothel that actually catered to the choices and lifestyles of the woman working there- the employees are treated with respect and have rights the same as those in any other job – the right to work in a safe environment and without harassment, fear or pressure. If only that was the case everywhere, in every occupation.
“Amy Andrews is a multi-published, award- winning author of 50+ romance novels across both traditional and digital platforms. She writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins Australia, Momentum Publishing, Escape Publishing and Tule. She’s sold in excess of a million books worldwide and has been translated into over a dozen languages”, (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1128457.Amy_Andrews)
If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series you will love this read!