Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dial Emmy for Murder, by Eileen Davidson

Beach Reading Contest Book #1

Dial Emmy for Murder might not have the genre-hopping appeal of, say, a Janet Evanovich novel, but it's a perfectly respectable mystery with an amusing hook and an appealing heroine.

This is the second book in a series, the first being 2008's Death in Daytime. Both books were written by real soap opera star Eileen Davidson, and feature fictional soap opera star Alexis Peterson. As Dial Emmy for Murder opens, Alexis's turn as a presenter at the Daytime Emmy Awards goes horribly wrong when one of her co-workers is found hanging from the stage rafters. This time around Alexis isn't suspected of committing the murder, but she's no less determined to get to the bottom of it.

While 95% of Dial Emmy for Murder works as a standalone mystery, readers would be well-advised to pick up the first book in this series as well. The love triangle in particular suffers; Alexis's old boyfriend barely shows up in this book, so it's difficult to buy him as a romantic rival to her other suitor, the handsome Detective Franks. Several other characters are also short-charged in the development department, including Alexis's daughter Sarah (a walking, talking “adorable moppet” cliché) and her hairstylist best friend.

Sadly, the biggest problem with Ms. Davidson's book is that, for a book about a soap opera star, it's nowhere near trashy enough. With the exception of the occasional grisly murder, Alexis's life and job seem incredibly humdrum. The series might improve if the author either abandoned reality altogether—the lives of soap opera stars are like a permanent, booze-soaked orgy!—or if she portrayed a bit more of the work-a-day life of her star. (We're supposed to believe Alexis never goes to the gym? Really?) Dial Emmy for Murder is plenty of fun as-is, but it could use a little Hollywood glamor—or at least a peek at the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to fake Hollywood glamor.

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