MODEL FOR DECEPTION by Ellen Morris  Prewitt


A Vangie Street Mystery
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A stolen earring, a murdered homeless man, and a missing colleague turn life upside down for a new Tennessee runway model in this series opener.

Evangeline “Vangie” Street was a former paralegal from Starlight, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. When she caught her husband cheating on her with a tattoo artist, she packed up, moved to Memphis, and divorced him long distance. She was spotted in the GlenGlade Shopping Center by Model Coordinator Kate Kelly and offered a job walking the runway at local society luncheons and galas. It is a rather perfect fit for a woman who reads people by studying their clothing choices. Readers meet Vangie just before a show in the Grand Ballroom of the Peabody Hotel, where she and Heather Jackson are runway partners. During the post-show backstage cleanup, the models discover an expensive earring has been stolen; the next day, Heather disappears. When Vangie sets out to find her and prove that Heather is not the thief, she shakes up a dangerous hornets’ nest. Meanwhile, over at the Next Step homeless shelter, where Vangie works a second job, a client has vanished. A few days later, his body is found and Vangie discovers that she knows the victim, bringing the tragedy home. Now she is involved in two investigations, unwittingly adding another target to her back. Prewitt’s (Tracking Happiness, 2018) double plotline is engaging, with some unexpected twists and a good measure of excitement. What raises the novel a cut above the standard mystery is Vangie, the story’s narrator. She is a smart, sarcastic, fashion-obsessed 30-something who has a large metal cutout of Elvis Presley gracing her front lawn. It is just fun spending time with her. Dialogue is fast and edgy: “Your red suspenders are a warning,” Vangie tells a dubious Detective Noel Prichard. “They say: be careful, you don’t know who you’re messing with. can let your suspenders do the talking.” The author, a former model herself, enhances the narrative with intriguing behind-the-scenes details that pull back the profession’s glossy veneer.

A well-paced, offbeat mystery with a healthy dose of snark; fashion statements abound.

Page count: 295pp
Publisher: manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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