Set in Hollywood, The Bad Always Die Twice is the first of a wildly entertaining series set amidst the bright lights, big egos, and Botoxed brows of Hollywood. It is partly the glitz and glamour of Jackie Collins novels and partly the LA streets of hard-boiled James Ellroy. Who better to tell this tale than Cheryl Crane, daughter of Hollywood legend Lana Turner and actor-restaurateur Joseph Stephen Crane? Cheryl was involved in the Johnny Stompanato scandal of the same period. She allegedly killed the hoodlum, because he threatened to kill her mother.
This mystery features Nikki Harper, the daughter of a screen goddess, who is raised in a completely dysfunctional home populated by a cast of crazies but who did not follow in her mother’s footsteps. Instead, Nikki is a real-estate agent who wants a quiet, comfortable life with a little love and happiness thrown in.
Up until now, Nikki always thought that dead meant dead. But then film icon Rex March turns up freshly murdered in the bed of Nikki’s best friend after being reported dead six months ago. A little distrustful of law enforcement, Nikki feels compelled to solve the murder on her own. Her acquaintances range from the pinnacle of Hollywood royalty to the bottom of Tinseltown’s barrel, including a not-so-grieving widow, a conniving younger lover, a best friend with secrets, a jilted mistress, a “closeted” confidante, a wacky neighbor, and a scheming business partner. Rex has a gaping hole where his eye used to be, and Nikki knows a lot of people with motives for the murder. The killer is getting ready for a repeat performance, so Nikki must act fast before her own screen fades to black.
©2011 Cheryl Crane (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Cheryl Crane has written a superb mystery: rich in milieu, deep in plot twists, constant in the exercise of suspense and surprise. This book is a veritable primer on why people read and love crime fiction.” (James Ellroy)
"...Partly the glitz and glamour of Jackie Collins novels and partly the LA streets of hard-boiled James Ellroy..."
Let's start from the top. I don't entirely agree with this title's book summary. Yes, to the first. No, to the second. That said, this is a terrific novel with an extremely likeable cast of characters. Everyone in this book felt right; they all seemed very "real."
The good characters were normal, everyday people you could relate to - even Victoria - Nikki's mother. Don't get me wrong. Victoria is amazing and manages to steal every scene she's in. The polar opposite of Norma Desmond from "Sunset Boulevard," Victoria Bordeaux is what Hollywood nobility should be, and what I want to believe once was. Because she's lived the life of a glamorous film goddess, her character and lavish circumstances may seem over-the-top for the average person at first, but it soon becomes apparent that she is completely realistic and charming. She's a classy lady through-and-through. Her relationship with her daughter is enjoyable and often a hoot. She loves her daughter and it shows. The reverse is also true.
The not-so-good characters were human, living their lives in the gray area rather than being completely wicked.
Refreshingly, there was no barely clad, kick-butt, sarcastic hellcat with a potty-mouth. Despite having grown up around Hollywood Royalty, Nikki Harper is a very down-to-earth character and an adult. She is a strong, independent woman who actually likes herself and is comfortable living in her own skin. She can mingle and live amongst the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, but she isn't blinded by it.
Nikki follows clues and uses her "daughter of" status to help solve the mystery that - again - is very real. While there is a love interest, there is no insanely hunky deus ex machina there to save the day or exchange eye-rolling flirtatious banter with.
The story is a breath of fresh air. There was hardly any profanity, though I didn't feel like I was smashed over the head with "the power of cute" either.
Loved the addition of Stan and Ollie, Nikki's two King Charles Spaniels, too. I wanted to scratch them behind the ear and toss 'em treats.
The narrator was superb.
Can't wait for the next novel. I definitely want to revisit these characters again and truly hope this becomes a successful series.
K so ... the sample sounded interesting, and I was already an admirer of Raudman's narration ... but Raudman's natural voice is somewhere in the soprano range, I assume ... add to that multiple characters with piercing, high, whiney vocals that can shriek on and on, and you've got a story that's at least one-quarter very, very annoying to listen to. I did finish the story, but I doubt that I'll listen to any more in the series. Also contains way too many of those boring product placements sprinkled too liberally throughout. Like too much salt it spoils the taste ... everything from brand names of sheets and shoes to closet organizers, ad nauseum ... just a plain turn-off, in my opinion.
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