Dear Mrs Bond,
I gotta love a woman who puts a review quote from her husband on the front of her book! Did you really make him read it? Bad you, bad, bad you. When Jane first sent me the arc, I didn’t realize it was actually book two in this series. Once the realization dawned, I debated trying to find and read book one but quickly decided there just wasn’t time to do so and still get this review done in August. Plus I also wanted to see if newcomers to the series could be caught up to speed. Answer? Yes, they can.
The first chapters of the book did have a lot of information to impart to new readers as we learned how Carlotta and Wesley’s father had been accused (framed if you ask Wesley) of financial hanky panky leading to the loss of their lavish Buckhead lifestyle in Atlanta. How their father and mother had fled and left 18 year old Carlotta to support and raise her younger brother. How he’d gotten into trouble with a) loan sharks and b) the law and now is on probation while working with Cooper Craft collecting bodies and delivering them to the morgue. How Carlotta’s old boyfriend had dumped her when her father fled but who’s now showing interest in her again after his first wife died and how Jack Terry, the hunky police detective who helped out in book one, is still hanging around and showing definite signs of interest as well.
Carlotta’s got a lot on her plate, what with keeping Wesley out of trouble, trying to keep her sales averages up at Neiman Marcus, and making the payments on all the overdue credit cards. Now after 10 years of silence her father calls from out of the blue, she discovers her identity might have been stolen and the police put her up to a masquerade to see if they can flush her parents out of hiding. Some days it’s almost too much but Carly’s got a lot of hidden strength even if she’s conflicted in her love life.
I’m not one who drools when high ticket fashion is slathered onto a story and this story mentions some retail names but Carly is a retail seller and grew up rich buying all those designer name things so it makes sense. It’s also needed for part of mystery solving (what the identity theft was wearing and what items were bought on heroine’s credit). But anyone with Manolo shoes can’t be too cut up about her bills – I mean honestly, for worrying about money so much, Carlotta and Wesley live pretty well — but then they’ve apparently got the bills to prove it. And they’re both young and have gone through a lot so maybe it’s retail therapy.
Wesley – acts like 19 year old male would – thinks with little Wesley and wants flashy stuff (plasma TV) and immediate gratification instead of paying off loan sharks and bills. But deep down, he does really care for his sister and knows he still needs to shape up. I think his acting out is reasonable due to what they’ve lived through after their parents left them 10 years ago with no resources to survive.
At times Carlotta can be annoying like when she’s falling in bed with Jack but she’s gone from self involved socialite all her life to 10 years of being the parent for her younger brother so I doubt her love life has been all that great lately. Jack has some depths but shouldn’t be shagging a suspect while on stakeout.
Coop – I thought this part of the book was fascinating – the whole body moving part – what goes into it, how it’s done, procedural aspects — it also shows Wesley maturing as he comes into contact with the dead and thinks about their lives and what brought them to death. As for Carlotta’s friend Hannah the Goth freak – I guess one should probably read book 1 to really “get” her and her friendship with Carlotta. She kind of seems like a caricature and one who needs to learn not to move bodies and catered food in the same van.
The mystery, though not bad, wrapped up too quickly at the end. There’s some humor to the book but overall, I got really depressed at times with one catastrophe after another pilled on Carlotta – endless bills, brother in trouble with law, loan sharks, more bills, identity theft, car damage, more bills, worry over whether or not parents love her enough to show up, more bills, people shooting at her, job suspension, more bills — it just seemed never ending and for every two steps forward, she’d get 1.5 back. I liked the story and might be interested in seeing if their missing parents ever show up and have their names cleared but I think I need to get myself into a good mood with some dark chocolate before doing so. B-