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The Good Girl's Guide to Murder: A Debutante Dropout Mystery    by Susan McBride order for
Good Girl's Guide to Murder
by Susan McBride
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Life is hard when all you want is to make your own way and you have an iron-willed mother with a burning desire to drag you into the socialite scene. This is Andrea Kendricks' cross to bear, since she seems to have nothing in common with her beautifully soignée parent, aside from their shared love for Andrea's deceased father.

Despite her resolve, Andrea finds Cissy hard to resist, and is soon stuck helping out Cissy's protegée, Marilee Mabry. The domestic diva's star is rising dramatically, and she needs a web expert in a hurry, since her last one quit. Once she meets Marilee, Andrea can see why. Marilee reserves her sugared ways for her audience; the people who work with her, even her own daughter Kendall, feel the lash of her temper. Andrea is astounded that her patrician and well-behaved mother has so much sympathy for Marilee, whose acid tongue and rudeness alienate those around her.

It is only too obvious that Cissy is in the minority. Marilee's fledgling television show has seen a number of 'accidents'. Then Marilee ends up murdered while visiting Cissy's house, where her 'Diet Club' (ladies actually rebelling against strict diets) meets. Andrea remains caught up in the messy aftermath, not only in support of her mother but also because of her sympathy for the waif-like Kendall. Ultimately, Andrea's persistence and curiosity pay off: she unmasks the murderer and in the process discovers the secrets in Marilee's past.

The Good Girl's Guide to Murder is an entertaining mystery with a lively cast. Andrea's mother Cissy is a delight (I found her more interesting than the protagonist); and McBride creates a vivid character in the murder victim, surrounding her with a number of well-delineated secondaries and suspects. I thought the solution to the murder quite original. Andrea Kendricks' second outing is a successful one, and fans will be eager to see more of her and her mother.

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