A contestant in a beauty pageant dies as a result of poisoning. Suicide, accident, or murder? And when a string of cruel pranks on other contestants follows, WPC Trudy Loveday and Coroner Clement Ryder decide to look deeper.
Intriguing setting and storylines! 1960 was a time when the majority of women did not “work”, but WPC Trudy Loveday is a young female in a male-dominated profession. She is humored, condescended to, mocked, and ignored by the majority of her peers and superiors, and yet she is determined that she will succeed. It is also what we would consider “a more innocent time” when people didn’t lock their doors, and didn’t look on friends, family, or neighbors with suspicion.
I thought the idea of Trudy and her discomfort at being a placed undercover as part of the beauty contest was inspired. The majority of people (male or female) reading this book would be able to empathize with her situation. She is as always a feisty and intelligent individual, but at the same time unsure and self-conscious. To be thrown into a position so unfamiliar and so revealing would make anyone uncomfortable, but Trudy does it with determination and good sense.
The connection between Dr. Ryder and Trudy is interesting to watch. This being the third book in the series, their relationship has progressed over time from “boss – employee” to “mentor – protégé”. While he is cautious and considered, she is eager and inquisitive. He reins her in but at the same time encourages her creative thinking, and she makes him think more freely and truly consider other noteworthy perspectives.
While this is by no means a “thriller”, the story progresses in such a way that tension builds throughout. The subplots of sabotaging the contest, rivalry between the contestants, blackmail, and infidelity add just enough misdirection to keep the reader guessing. I was totally engrossed in the last several chapters and the foreshadowing of the outcome. It was an interesting ending which left me wanting more…so I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
My thanks to NetGalley and HQ Digital for the advanced reader copy made available for my review.