Monday, December 18, 2006

Mystery Book Review: High Heels and Holidays by Kasey Michaels

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of High Heels and Holidays by Kasey Michaels. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.High Heels and Holidays by Kasey Michaels

High Heels and Holidays by Kasey Michaels
A Maggie Kelly Mystery

Kensington Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7582-0882-0 (0758208820)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7582-0882-8 (9780758208828)
Publication Date: October 2006
List Price: $14.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Mystery author Maggie Kelly is getting ready to celebrate her first Christmas with Alexandre, Viscount Saint Just -- her once-fictional, but now all too-real sexy hero and boyfriend. But her romantic Christmas plans go haywire when murder decides to deck the halls ...

Bad Tidings We Bring! There’s nothing I’d rather be doing this time of year then singing Christmas carols while I trim my tree, and snuggling next to my man Alex while we watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. But this season, it seems some Grinch with a really bad sense of humor is delivering packages of rotting rats and death threats to me and the other authors who contributed to the mystery collection No Secret Anymore.

To You and Your Kin! Sure, even I’ll admit the book was terrible. But why can’t this sicko just go to the bookstore and get a refund? It’s Christmas, buddy -- not Halloween! But then Jonathan West -- the brainchild of No Secret Anymore -- turns up dead, and me and Alex aren’t so sure anymore that the murderer is a just a disgruntled reader... Bad tidings for Christmas—and a Murderous New Year! Jonathan had finally completed a new novel, which his agent claimed to be his best. This leads us to think maybe a jealous rival is the killer—that is, until two of Jonathan’s obsessed fans surface. So now the we’re scrambling to solve this mystery before eight writers—including yours truly—don’t live to see the New Year ...

Review: High Heels and Holidays is the fifth mystery in this series by Kasey Michaels to feature mystery author Maggie Kelly and her fictional, but now real, Regency-era hero, the aristocrat-detective Alexandre Blake, the Viscount Saint Just.

This disappointing entry in the series takes place immediately after the gang returns from England, the site of the previous book, the delightful and entertaining High Heels and Homicide. A colleague, Francis Oakes, has died under mysterious circumstances, and though Maggie would rather be preparing for the holidays and sharing an intimate moment with her fictional-but-real creation, she is drawn into the mystery when another celebrity author is found dead.

This series has a unique twist to it, and Michaels uses a prologue in the form of a letter from Maggie to "Fred" to describe just how the the character of Alexandre Blake came to be. But readers new to the series are likely to be confused by the whole premise, and are better served to read one of the previous books to appreciate the situation in which Maggie finds herself with Saint Just.

There's an astonishing amount of dialog in High Heels and Holidays, but very little of substance is ever said. At one point Saint Just notes, facetiously but accurately, "... you fascinate us with this story, although you've said very little so far, haven't you?" And Maggie herself says that "... if anyone sane ever eavesdropped on any of our conversations, we'd all be locked up."

It's probably not giving away too much to say that Maggie and Alex get romantically involved in this book, and that is frequently a problem for a romantic mystery series. And a serious problem in this one. Maggie, for all practical purposes, admits as much in another letter to "Fred" in the epilogue. "So I give him this independent woman, see. They battle—right off the bat. Two strong personalities, going at it ... but slowly, against their will, they're drawn to each other. Big-time. Physically. They keep dancing around each other; advancing, retreating, keeping the readers happy. And all the while she helps him solve crimes. It could work."

Or not.

If the series is drawing to a close, this might be a way to end it. But if Michaels intends to continue the adventures of Maggie and Saint Just, a rapid retreat to their pre-Holiday relationship is definitely in order.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing a copy of High Heels and Holidays for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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