Who’s stalking the aspiring photographer and knocking off her models?
Lydia McKenzie aggressively works the crowd during the opening night party for her first solo art show at the Bulan Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The tippling of slightly hysterical gallery owner Jacques Bulan threatens to spoil the show, which features artistic re-creations of lurid crime scenes. But the festivities continue until police detectives Romero (male) and Wong (female) arrive with the news that Lydia’s model and friend Marie has been murdered and, even worse, arranged in a pose that matches an art photo snapped by Lydia. Lydia finds the sexy Romero sympathetic, but Wong treats her like a suspect. When Marie’s mother asks Lydia’s help in planning a memorial service, Lydia begins searching for a missing address book to contact potential attendees. She finds it, along with some evidence that may incriminate Marie. Lydia’s day job at slapdash D’Angelo Investigations—where Leo and Frankie D’Angelo spend more time avoiding work (and their domineering Mama, who owns the business) than investigating—provides comic relief and a diversion from her troubles. At length, however, a rift develops over Heather Pruitt, a blonde bombshell who entrances Frankie, annoys Leo and seems to have designs on the business. An attack on Jacques and the murder of more models make Lydia fear for her own life and launch her own investigation.
Cole’s fiction debut, winner of the St. Martin’s Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, is amiable, well-plotted and just a bit stiff.