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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Review - The Jean Harlow Bombshell

I enjoy classic movies and the golden age of Hollywood, so this concept of a biographer and researcher digging up murder mysteries was catnip to me! This first book features Jean Harlow, the first blond bombshell and sex symbol.  She died at age 26.  Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of the Cora Craft's cozy mystery series as well.  Read on to see what my thoughts on this debut book were.

Author: Mollie Cox Bryan

Copyright: May 2019 (Midnight Ink) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in A Classic Star Biography Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Charlotte Donovan, research assistant to Hollywood biographer.

Setting: Modern day, New York City

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the book cover: "Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin.

In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer?"

Charlotte Donovan is an excellent researcher dealing with Lyme disease and a dysfunctional family that she avoids.  She also has a habit of dating cops.  Police sergeant Den Brophy is the investigating officer and provides a challenge to Charlotte's will power because she promised to stay on a police dating diet.  He makes no secret of his growing affection for her.  There are a few other characters, but mainly these two.

Although the story takes place in modern New York, the research is brought alive with a mystery surrounding Harlow's sudden illness and death, effectively bringing Hollywood's golden age into the story as a setting too.  

The plot seemed a simple premise, but the added hint of there being foul play in Harlow's death and then perhaps playing a role in the current death of the biographer was a twist.  The pacing lagged at times, but my desire to see how it would work out kept me reading.  

The climax had some good thrills, but that was the only time I really felt some immediacy and emminent danger.  The Harlow look-alike sightings seemed more an anomaly rather than something sinister.

While I appreciated the diversity of having a sleuth who is dealing with Lyme disease, sometimes that took the focus away from the mystery and created problems for Charlotte that were outside the story.  In one chapter she is dealing with symptoms and then we see her investigating without the handicap of her illness in the next chapter.  That may work for some readers, but for me it pulled me out of the story too much.  

I really liked the details of Harlow's turbulent celebrity and pre-Hollywood life.  The killer was a surprise and made me read up on her death myself. I am looking forward to the next book which I hope to see the plot better developed because it is a great premise. 

Rating:  Good - A fun read with minor flaws, good but not stellar.


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1 comments:

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