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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wow Review of Wow Crime Novel!

Book title: A Model Murder (Alicia Allen Investigates 1)
Author: Celia Conrad
Website: www.alicialleninvestigates.com
Where to buy the book: Amazon USA http://tinyurl.com/pjtyn54
Genre: Crime fiction
ISBN 9780954623326 (Paperback) & available in all Ebook formats
Publisher: Barcham Books

 Reviewed by Marlan Warren originally for "Dancing in the Experience Lane" Open Salon Blog

 

In law firms, nobody can hear you scream...

 

 

He told me he was used to getting what he wanted...

--A Model Murder, Celia Conrad

 

What do law firms and men’s “hostess” clubs have in common? If your first thought is “alpha males,” you’re already on board with A Model Murder. Conrad draws disturbing, often painfully entertaining, parallels between these two worlds where Neanderthals still roam the Earth, and a resistant female might get a bop on the head or worse.

A Model Murder is a fast-paced suspense mystery, full of twists and turns, following in the tradition of Nicci French and Sue Grafton.

Alicia Allen is a London-based Anglo-Italian lawyer on the verge of her 30th birthday whose experience of Death has been limited to sorting estate issues...until her beautiful Australian neighbor and wannabe model, Tammy, turns up raped and murdered before she can collect her first paycheck from the job she wants to quit in a sleazy men’s club.

British author Conrad has painted a loving portrait of the multi-cultural melting pot that is London and her down-to-earth heroine who has no superpowers of intuition and deduction, but is quite simply a good neighbor who will stop at nothing until a wrong is made right.

Lack of police progress propels Alicia towards finding Tammy’s murderer herself. The Shakespearean character of Portia (Merchant of Venice) is mentioned, and indeed Alicia does resemble that legendary defense attorney. Her “quality of mercy is not strained” as she single-mindedly focuses on solving this horrible murder. Using her honed skills of observation and detail-awareness, she finds clues even in opera. Breaking and entering to gather evidence? No problem.

When Alicia coincidentally finds herself in a life-threatening work situation from a mad-dog senior partner, the link between sociopaths who legally run law firms and take unfair advantage of women “underlings” and the sociopaths who run illegal prostitution rackets solidifies.

Of course the crazier and nastier the law firm environment, the more fun. Conrad also makes the fair point that women in both arenas can also harass their female coworkers. All the better to keep readers guessing whodunit!

Red herrings swim among Alicia’s true friends who are the mainstay of her life. Will that Robert Redford-type lawyer who wows the ladies at her office be The One or is he somehow responsible for Tammy’s untimely demise?

Will Alicia pick the true-blue “best friend” who shares her Italian heritage or the office lover-boy who makes her knees weak while he quotes Shakespeare? That Conrad keeps all these balls in the air until the story’s breathtaking and very scary conclusion is a testament to her marvelous instincts as a storyteller extraordinaire.
Women make this plot twirl on its axis; so there has to be food. I found myself wanting Pringles (Alicia's one addiction), pizza, salad nicoise, pasta primavera, and high tea with succulent scones throughout the adventure. Not necessarily in that order.

Full disclosure: I toiled in law firms for years as a secretary, and I had a friend who worked in a pole-dancing club in Los Angeles. So this harrowing, occasionally satirical, murder mystery hit a nerve and my funny bone at the same time.

PS to American Readers: Keep your English to English Dictionary handy! Alicia eats chips from a tube and then rides on one...but I just have to love a language and a country where women can be "well upholstered."

I am eagerly looking forward to reading the other two books in this Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy: A Wilful Murder (Book 2) and Murder in Hand (Book 3).
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

3 comments:

Celia Conrad said...

You can read more about Celia Conrad at http://celiaconrad.blogspot.co.uk

Find A Model Murder on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/ogh2h3r

If you want to contact Celia then you can send her at tweet to @Iwrite2b or find her on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/ojn62ez

Marlan Warren said...

Wow! Thank you very much, Carolyn Howard-Johnson for re-publishing my review of Celia Conrad's book! We just found out that it will also be featured in the Midwest Book Review's August 2014 issue! BTW, I am a CH-J fan. I heard you speak at IWOSC, and your books are terrific!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank you, Marlan. Love passing helpful info around--for writers and readers! (-: