Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Manolo Matrix by Julie Kenner

Title: The Manolo Matrix
Author: Julie Kenner
Publisher: Downtown Press
Publication Date: February 2006
ISBN:0-7434-9614-0

Series Character(s): None
Entry in Series: Second

The Manolo Matrix is the second book in Julie Kenner's Play.Win.Survive trilogy. The Givency Code, released in 2005, introduced the game and The Prada Paradox, expected to be released in 2007, will (presumably) provide answers to some obvious questions about the game (such as, who is behind it).

Synopsis (from the publisher): USA Today bestselling author of The Givenchy Code Julie Kenner reloads for her second novel of high-heeled thrills as another woman gets pulled into a mysterious world of extreme gaming where she must play or die.

Aspiring actress Jennifer Crane knows all about games -- the games girls play to get a guy; the games actresses play to land a part; and the good old game of credit-card roulette. (How else is a girl supposed to afford her shoes?) But she never expected to be playing a game with life-or-death consequences. Unable to successfully score an acting gig, she has, instead, been cast in the role of reluctant bodyguard to a real-life assassin's target -- a dashing FBI agent of all people! -- and must embark with him upon a scavenger hunt across Manhattan in search of the ultimate prize: survival. Before this, Jenn's definition of fighting dirty has been elbowing her way to the front of the line at a Manolo sample sale. Now, if she wants to stay alive, she's going to have to learn a few new uses for her stilettos ... and they ain't pretty.

Fast, flirty, and full of great footwear, The Manolo Matrix is another electrifying adventure in this breakout series for fashionistas who love a perfectly appointed mystery.

Review: The individual books of the best trilogies should be able to stand on their own, but The Manolo Matrix fails in this regard. The basis of the scavenger hunt (clues from Broadway plays) seems overly contrived, and the relationship between Jennifer and Devlin is never believable. The book is billed as an action-packed mystery and romantic comedy, but it is neither of these. It seems the author was simply trying to fill in the gap between the first and third books as quickly as possible with little regard to plot or character development.

Kenner is clearly taking advantage of the incredible publicity surrounding The Da Vinci Code (the title of the first book, The Givenchy Code, being an obvious clue) in penning this trilogy. But while The Da Vinci Code would never be classified as fine literature, it was at least fun to read. The Manolo Matrix is neither.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of The Manolo Matrix for this review.

Read other recent mystery book reviews by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books.

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