Friday, October 11, 2013

Lorena McCourtney's "Dolled Up to Die" - a seriously funny mystery

Dolled Up to DieMeet Cate Kinkaid, Private Eye.  Or, more officially, Assistant Private Detective of Belmont Investigations.  Having found her love and calling, Cate is officially working toward getting her private detective license as her uncle phases into retirement.  Aside from getting involved accidentally in a murder investigation on Cate's first case, Belmont Investigations doesn't do violent crime; however, when a woman calls frantically that Lucinda, Marianne, and Toby have all been shot and the police aren't responding immediately, what is Cate to do?  Granted, it turns out that those three poor souls weren't alive to begin with, being extremely life-like dolls, but the body in the workroom, on the other hand . . .  Once again, between delivering subpoenas and trailing secretive husbands, Cate gets thoroughly embroiled in a murder investigation in Lorena McCourtney's second Cate Kinkaid novel, Dolled Up to Die

I don't think I'm really throwing out spoilers to say this, but I really liked the ending - it is much more believable and realistic than so many mysteries where the villain Confesses All.  Rather, evidence and actions point to the killer, and the murderer does not explain away every last detail of the crime.  Even after putting the villain behind bars, Cate has to use "informed deductions" in addition to the facts while filling out the case file, since some of the reasoning and methods of the crimes are not explained by the alleged murderer.  Huzzah for the sensible villain who doesn't waste precious minutes gloating over every evil deed when that time could be used to finish off the main character!  (Not that they ever succeed anyway, but at least they use their brains.)

Cate is a great, realistic character.  She is not perfectly coiffed, super highly accomplished, or out-of-this-world brainy, but she has sense, maintains meaningful relationships, and trusts God - an ordinary woman who could live next door or be one's best friend.  Just as she is easy to relate with, so is her relationship with Mitch - both a good friend and an attentive boyfriend, she can call on him to rescue her from any trouble, and he can depend on her to be up for everything, even helping old men from church clean out their closets.  He is a good guy who loves her and wants to protect her but knows when to let her go her own way and not stifle her. 

Another great comedic mystery by McCourtney, I laughed out loud again while reading the novel.  The situations she sticks them in, Cate's quirky thoughts - it is a wonderful piece of literature.  There isn't a big Christian message or lesson, but we can see progression in Kate and especially Mitch from the first novel, Dying to Read, as he is growing stronger in his beliefs. 

Cate Kincaid Files
1. Dying to Read
2. Dolled Up to Die
3. Death Takes a Ride

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