“B” Is for Bad Girls by Rebecca Cantrell and Sean Black

“B” Is for Bad Girls by Rebecca Cantrell and Sean Black "B" Is for Bad Girls by Rebecca Cantrell, Sean Black
Narrator: Madeline Mrozek
Series: Malibu Mystery #2
Published by the authors on February 23, 2016
Source: Author
Genres: Mystery
Length: 5 hrs 15 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Maloney Investigation's newest private detective, Sofia Salgado, is back on the case that turns into her mother's worst nightmare when she ends up undercover in one of Malibu's many rehab clinics.

If she doesn't solve the mystery in time, she and all the bad girls she meets inside, including rock star Brandi Basher and reality TV train wreck Monaco Jane, might just end up going to the big rehab center in the sky.

“B” Is for Bad Girls is #2 in the series, but can definitely be read as a stand-alone. It’s short, funny and has a good mystery. Sofia is a great lead character. She’s new to the detective business, although she played one on tv— literally, she quit acting to become a detective. The paparazzi is still happy to get pictures of her in awkward situations though, like peeing in public or coming out of a rehab facility for example. Part of what makes it fun is that her semi-celebrity status in Malibu lets us meet other celebrities, like the bad girls at the rehab center where she is undercover. Well, not really undercover, since she’s still being herself, just pretending to be a drug addict, which she is not. It’s neat to have the entertainment industry in the background of the series.

Sofia is a riot she has a great sense of humor about herself and about life. Her friends and family are caring, but all a little over the top. Her mom tends to attempt interventions and wants Sofia to get together with her (gay) neighbor. Her niece and nephew are dangerous, period — keep them away from tools and don’t look at them funny, but they’re cute, I just wouldn’t want to watch them for a weekend. the guys at the detective agency are competent and good at what they do. While there’s a lot of teasing, they have Sofia’s back and do appreciate her unique skill set. And you have to meet the seagull. Oh, and the puppy.

I really enjoy light mysteries that can truly make me laugh and this one of the few series I’ve run across lately that fits the bill. The mystery itself is actually pretty good, too. I did guess who dunnit, but the clues were worked into the story well. Sofia did do the standard female detective thing of putting herself into a dangerous position with no way of contacting anyone, but of course it worked out. It wrapped up a bit quickly, a few questions were left unanswered, but they solved the mystery they were hired to solve.

Mrozek does an excellent job as the narrator. She’s perfect for Sofia, but handles all the other characters well. Even though some of the people and situations are outrageous, she keeps it all under control, lets it be believable. I’m looking forward to listening to more of Sofia’s adventures in detecting.

About Rebecca Cantrell

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell has published nine novels in over ten different languages. Her novels have won the ITW Thriller, the Macavity, and the Bruce Alexander awards. They have been nominated for the GoodReads Choice award, the Barry, the RT Reviewers Choice, and the APPY award. She and her husband and son live in Berlin.

About Sean Black

Sean Black grew up in Scotland, but also spent parts of his childhood in the United.

By the time he graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Sean had already published some short fiction and print journalism. Before he became a full-time novelist, e taught college and wrote television drama.

Real Elves: A Christmas Story by Helen Smith

Real Elves: A Christmas Story by Helen Smith Real Elves: A Christmas Story by Helen Smith
Published by Tyger Books on September 16, 2014
Source: Author
Genres: Mystery, Short Story
Pages: 35
Format: eBook
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In a department store in London, a little girl called Sophie visits Santa’s magical forest with her grandfather. As they emerge from the forest, Sophie’s grandfather reports her missing… but the little girl’s right there. Is she a ghost, a twin, an alien abductee—or is there some simpler explanation? Twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth Emily Castles has fifteen minutes to figure out the puzzle before the police are called and Christmas is ruined.

Real Elves is my first Christmas read of the year and it was a cute little mystery, a little silly maybe, but it has a light-heartedness that fits Christmas. And I would love to visit the Magic Forest, pick a golden apple,  and see Santa. It’s a short story, only 35 pages or so, so I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. I will say that there’s no violence and it has a happy ending all around.

I’ve read a couple other stories featuring Emily Castles. She’s smart, funny and a bit quirky, but I don’t think you actually get much of a feel for her characters here, it’s more about the magic and mystery, not the recurring character. That does mean it works well as a stand-alone though. It’d be a nice gift to sneak into a stocking or a small gift exchange.

About Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. She’s the author of acclaimed cult novels Alison Wonderland and Being Light; dystopian novel The Miracle Inspector; the Emily Castles mystery series; and children’s books, poetry and plays. Her books have been published by Gollancz/ Orion (part of the Hachette Group), Watling Street, Lake Union, and Thomas & Mercer. Her most recent British mystery, Beyond Belief, was published by Thomas & Mercer in 2014.

Helen Smith’s books have been praised in The Times, The Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Time Out and They have appeared on “best books of the year” lists in For Books’ Sake, The Cult Den, The Independent and the Guardian. Her work has been optioned by the BBC.

Helen Smith is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, The Crime Writers’ Association and English PEN. She has been invited to read at literary events and festivals in London and New York and points in between – including, most recently, a cruise ship en route to California via the Suez Canal. Her work has been read or performed at the National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Amnesty International’s Headquarters, The Edinburgh Festival and The University of London. She’s a Literary Death Match champion and the recipient of an Arts Council of England award.

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