Friday, May 5, 2017

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by [Quick, Amanda]

The Girl Who Knew Too Much- Amanda Quick
Release Date: May 9, 2017

Rating (out of 5):

Warning: Potential Spoilers!

Synopsis:  When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool…  The dead woman had a red-hot secret about up-and-coming leading man Nick Tremayne, a scoop that Irene couldn’t resist—especially since she’s just a rookie at a third-rate gossip rag. But now Irene’s investigation into the drowning threatens to tear down the wall of illusion that is so deftly built around the famous actor, and there are powerful men willing to do anything to protect their investment. 
Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago… With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…


Dead tipsters are not something a reporter on the gossip beat generally expects, so when Irene Glasson finds the woman who was going to give her a lead on a hot new actor dead, she naturally suspects foul play.   Oliver Ward, a former magician whose last act almost killed him, now owns the Burning Cove Hotel.  He's not thrilled to have a dead body in his pool, but he's even less happy that one of his guests has murdered another and assumes Oliver will cover it up.  Teaming up with a reporter may go against all his own rules but working with Irene feels very right.  As additional bodies pile up, the chances of coincidence lessen and patterns emerge.  But along with threats from crazed fans and movie studio execs,  Irene begins to worry that she's dealing with more than one killer.  Because she has a few secrets in her past that she hasn't shared with Oliver, and it looks like they may be catching up with her.  

When Irene Glasson discovers two murder victims in the space of the first four chapters of The Girl Who Knew Too Much, readers can be excused for thinking Irene has seriously bad luck. The truth is that, like any good reporter, Irene has a sense for secrets and the tenacity to want to follow a story no matter where it leads.  Quick does an excellent job of filling in Irene's past with a few deft strokes, not bogging down the story but giving us enough to know why Irene is a strong and independent woman, and why she is, unlike many of Quick's other heroines, not especially naive or trusting of others. However, Irene isn't yet jaded by life, and is still learning to navigate the rocky road of Hollywood gossip and the movie studios that practically run L.A.  

Oliver Ward is a bit jaded, and a lot cynical, but retains a magician's sense of curiosity and need to know why things work- including Irene.  He often seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders (as a hotel owner who employs a large number of people right after the Depression, that is slightly true) but fortunately he follows his instincts (and curiosity) when it comes to Irene.  The two make a good team, with a quiet connection that turns into love without either of them quite knowing it's happened.

Readers will mostly associate Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle) with her novels set in Regency England (Ravished) and late Victorian England ('Til Death Do Us Part).  The Girl Who Knew Too Much is her first foray into 1930s America. As a huge fan of Regency and Victorian England historicals, I was disappointed to learn that Quick's newest book was moving to a different era.  But as a devotee of Jayne Ann Krentz under all her names, there was no question about not giving Girl a fair chance.  The murder mystery in Girl is perhaps one of Quick's best so far.  Nothing is quite what it seems and as the reader puts the puzzle together with Irene and Oliver to create one solution, like one of Oliver's magic tricks suddenly seeing it from another angle shows us an entirely new answer. I do have to admit to some disappointment at the end with the new time period.  The Hollywood glitz and glamor, and art deco brilliance advertised don't really live up to the promise.  While in Quick's other historical romances the era is as much a character as the people, the 1930s doesn't feel all that different from the 'modern' world.  Some typewriters, phone booths, and cigars are thrown in to set the stage, but otherwise the book could have been any of Jayne Ann Krentz's modern day titles.  I don't know enough about the 1930s to know if that was part of Quick's point: the more things change the more they don't.  However, clues in Girl suggest we may return to Burning Cove to learn more about Oliver's friend Luther.  As a nightclub owner with possible shady connections, Luther may be able to show us the time period glamour and grittiness that struck me as situation normal for Hollywood.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much combines Quick's trademark dry wit, fast-paced plotting, and snappy dialogue with brilliant, multi-layered mystery. The twists, turns and multiple threats blend seamlessly into one brilliant whole, with plenty of surprises along the way even when you are sure everything is solved.  

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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