Monday, March 19, 2012
So Pretty It Hurts by Kate White
Bailey's boyfriend, Beau Regan, was in Sedona on a job. When he called to say he might get back on Saturday, she didn't want to sit around waiting for him, and agreed to accompany a friend to a house party a couple hours north of the city. What she found was a self-absorbed group of people involved in the modeling and music industries, with many of them dependent on the whims of model Devon Barr. Then, she found herself "Being nearly snowbound with a bunch of totally wacky houseguests who liked to get sloshed or stoned, expose their boobs and hurl drinks across the table." And, even when one of the guests ends up dead, the others are still self-absorbed, crying about lost job opportunities, and complaining about being stranded in the house with a corpse.
For Bailey, it's an opportunity to report back to her boss at Buzz magazine, a gossip tabloid where she covers crime involving celebrities. Although her friend and co-worker, Jessie, feels as if she's in the midst of a horror movie, Bailey turns crime investigator, asking questions of the other guests. She's not so sure the death was an accident, considering conversations she overheard. When a key goes missing, someone scares the guests, and Bailey herself is pushed down the stairs, she thinks she might be on the right track. It's only when she gets back to the city, though, and finds herself in danger and her job on the line, that she realizes she might be a threat to one of the other guests from the weekend.
After thinking about it, I don't remember many likable characters in the Agatha Christie mysteries. I have to admit there were few likable people in So Pretty It Hurts. And, even Bailey Weggins, who could be so mature in her professional life, was immature when it came to her personal life. She admits that she had, "A rotten habit of biting off my nose to spite my face." It's her immature reaction, and her distrust of her boyfriend that places her at that houseparty.
Spoiled models and musicians aren't my favorite characters. But, I always appreciate a good mystery involving an isolated house and cast. And, White handles that beautifully, including an ironic twist that works well. Bailey even shows some emotional maturity at the end of the book. Perhaps this is White's way of forcing her series character to grow. So Pretty It Hurts puts a modern twist on the country-house murder, while moving Bailey Weggins on to a new stage in her life.
Kate White's website is www.katewhite.com
So Pretty It Hurts by Kate White. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 9780061576607 (hardcover), 317p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.