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Friday 3 May 2019

‘Death at the Dakota’ by M.K. Graff

Published by Bridle Path Press,
1st April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1732163041

Trudy Genova loves everything about her life in New York. She has a great boyfriend, Detective Ned O’Malley, and their relationship is growing stronger all the time, although Trudy is a bit apprehensive about meeting Ned’s wealthy, socially prominent family. She also has a wonderful job, working as the nurse for a film production company, which often means working alongside Meg Pitman, her best friend, who is a production assistant. Sometimes Trudy’s work involves checking scripts for medical inaccuracies, but often she is on set, looking after the actors.

The story opens with Trudy watching the last few scenes of a new made-for-television film that is being filmed in the iconic Dakota Building, a place where many great stars have lived. It is generally assumed that Trudy is there for all of the cast but, in fact, she has been tasked with watching over the star, Monica Kiley. Monica is expecting a baby but, as she has suffered a series of miscarriages, she doesn’t want anyone outside her immediate circle to know. If she loses this baby, she doesn’t want the Press to broadcast the news. This means that Trudy has to be very discreet and tactful as she watches over Monica.

The filming is just about complete, and all seems to be going well when Monica disappears, apparently from a busy street in broad daylight. It seems probable that she has been kidnapped but no ransom demand arrives. Trudy tries to work out whether the disappearance is connected to Monica’s public or private life. Although she is a successful actor and may have jealous rivals, Monica is sweet-natured and well liked and it seems improbable that a professional rival would go to such lengths. Monica’s second husband, actor and producer Carlos Romero, appears to be devoted to her but Trudy notices a few things that make her wonder if Carlos may be having an affair. However, the chief suspect has to be Monica’s controlling and obsessively jealous first husband, which would mean that Monica may be in the power of a violent and emotionally unstable man.

Trudy is desperately worried about Monica and her unborn child, but she is also concerned that she and Ned have little time to enjoy each other’s company and to take their relationship to the next stage of intimacy. Ned is also unhappy about this, but his new investigation into the death of an unidentified man, whose body is burned beyond recognition, has to take priority. When a violent death occurs at the Dakota, Ned is afraid that Trudy’s determination to discover the truth might place her in danger. His concerns soon prove justified and Trudy finds that her job is not only interesting and demanding but, at times, positively perilous.

Death at the Dakota is the second book in the series featuring Trudy Genova and I can only describe it as a page turner. In fact, I read it in two days, staying up late into the night to read ‘just a few more chapters’. Trudy is a delightful protagonist, warm-hearted, practical, funny and insatiably curious, but with a vulnerability at her core that results from the suspicious death of her father, on her birthday, when she was a child. The cast of regular supporting characters are equally engaging, especially Wilkie Collins, Trudy’s adorable ginger cat. The plot of Death at the Dakota is fascinating, with several clever twists and turns, but always playing fair and providing subtly laid clues, and the setting is wonderfully atmospheric. A delightful book, perfect for those who like their cosy mysteries with depth of character and a spice of humour. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Marni Graff is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series, set in the UK. She is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven and founded the group Coastal Carolina Mystery Writers. She has also published poetry, last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute; her creative nonfiction has most recently appeared in Southern Women’s Review.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel,
The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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