"It's an ill wind that blows no good," and Stella Hardesty may have met that wind in A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield.
Stella was finally having a romantic dinner with Sheriff Goat Jones. "She'd had her eye on the sheriff for just about as long as he'd lived in Prosper." But, the tornado that blew in not only stirred up bad memories from her childhood, but it blew over the snack shack at the local demolition derby track, uncovering a body. Even worse, that wind blew in Goat's wife. And Brandy Truax was nothing but trouble.
Stella wasn't a homewrecker, so she left Goat to deal with his past. Now, she had problems of her own to deal with because it's the husband of a friend who is the primary suspect out at the track. Most recently, Ned Donovan got into a cultlike religious fundamentalist group, and Stella helped him out of that situation. But, his OxyContin addiction might have helped him kill someone, and hide the body. Ned and his wife just aren't sure what he might have done a few years ago, in the throes of addiction, and they want Stella's help to prove his innocence.
Readers looking for Stella to deal out her brand of justice to abusive men won't find it in the current book. It's only three months after the violent episodes of A Bad Day for Sorry, and Stella's just getting back to normal. But, that woman who hides her kind heart behind a gruff exterior, is having a harder time hiding it. She's looking into the investigation on behalf of a friend. But, she's taken in a stray dog, just as she's taken in stray people - the boy down the street, the abused woman who was shot on the last case, and her toddler, and, if she has to, even Sheriff Goat Jones' wife.
Littlefield's follow-up to A Bad Day for Sorry lacks some of the spark of the first book. It's hard to carry that through since the element of surprise is gone in Stella's story. We already know Stella's past as an abused wife who finally took action. Now, she's an amateur sleuth with a reputation that she's trying to hide. She's aware the man she has her sights on is on the other side of the fence when it comes to the law.
So, read A Bad Day for Pretty for Stella and her friends, for the developing characters and the relationship. Just don't expect the same energy and suspense that brought numerous award nominations for A Bad Day for Sorry.
Sophie Littlefield's website is www.sophielittefield.com
A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2010. ISBN 9780312559755 (hardcover), 292p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested a copy of this book from the publisher, so I could review it.