Sunday, December 29, 2013

Too Pretty To Die (Debutante Dropout Mystery #5) - by Susan McBride

"Yes, positive,” I (Andrea Kendricks) said, because I’d seen with my own eyes the “Dear Miranda” letter telling her she’d been unadmitted. “Anna Dean bagged the letter telling Miranda she’d been booted. It’s as good as a suicide note as far as she’s concerned. She figures Miranda getting rejected was related to her death.”

It was a Dallas Pretty Party going awfully unpretty when Miranda DuBois, a former Miss USA runner-up, crashed it, accusing Dr. Sonja Madhavi of destroying her future and shooting a whole in the frame of the Picasso. The next moment Miranda was dead herself.

Private clubs for the moneyed set were numerous and mostly exclusive. One of those was the Caviar Club. " It’s all about the pretty people, you see. The beautiful ones . . .” Janet paused. “. . . at least on paper. Photo paper,” she clarified. “They pick and choose their members based on looks, or looks that they find appealing. They don’t want any average folks at their secret parties messing up the ambience."

It was the digs where power and money are the male equivalent of pretty faces and big breasts. “Oh, hon, it’s such a wonderful way to meet like-minded people who are successful in their fields and oh-so-philanthropic, always giving, giving, giving. ‘Our goal is bring together those of the same level of aesthetics so as to avoid intermingling with those of lesser aesthetics."

Whatever they chose to call themselves, Andrea Kendricks thought them to be 'eemer-driving snots who only want to mix with other Barbies and Kens.'

Andrea did not believe the suicide theory  of the police.  Her friends Janet, the newshound, did not think so either.

"Maybe if the whole world stopped worshipping shiny objects, the shiny people would cease parading around in butt-baring jeans and too-tight T-shirts, showing off bodies carved by scalpels and hair glued into place with more gel than the cranberry mold at Thanksgiving.

You don’t get it,” Janet said, sniffing. “It’s much more than a dating service for the plastic set. Waaay more. I’ve heard the rumors, Andy. I just have to find another way to prove the whispers are true.

Cissy Kendricks, Andrea's mother also suspected a Botox experience gone snakey, it did not matter that she was best friends with Anna Dean, the senior police investigator. She was getting the balls rolling with a private investigator, as fast as possible. “It’s about a little girl who doesn’t have a voice anymore. She needs someone to see this through, to make sure she isn’t remembered by a lie.

Andrea was also taking the trail of the bulldogs, thin dangerous bulldogs, with their big hair, pancake plastered make-up, perfect manicures, right addresses and phallic symbols for cars. But finding the right track, would require of Janet to get herself an Angelina Jolie kisser in order to grab a headliner for her newspaper. And Andrea would have to sneak out and become her usual risky self.

Like everything else plastic the secret formula , known as the Way of the Park Cities Woman was: If it’s broke, fake it.

Who better to gain access to all the secrets than Andrea who was born into these circles.

Comments: I loved this fast-moving, evocative, satirical murder mystery of Dallas high society. It is book 5 in Susan McBride's Debutante Dropout Mystery series. I got so used to the characters in all five books, it felt like saying goodbye to some special new friends. Not that I belong in their social circle of course (in fact, you will have to pay me big bucks to make friends with them! Actually you will have to throw in a few life-threatening moments as well to get me even smiling at them! ).  But the sneak preview into their lives was a delight. I leave it behind with a smile, and a giggle here and there as well.

The series was a pleasant, relaxing experience. It is the perfect books to read between Christmas and New Years when the world is relaxing and the holiday spirit is at its peak. Every book had a totally new murder theme which involved the same characters flocking together on a new adventure with new people thrown into the new story. There were a few boring aspects though: the fake rich people themselves, and perhaps too much dialogue in some places, as well as Cissy Kendricks, the overbearing, snobbish, often annoying mother, who got to me, especially in the end. But overall I never had time to feel anything but 'angst-driven' for the stories to conclude. They were all riveting and worth all the hours I spent reading all five books in a row. I enjoyed the easy-going, down-to-earth, straightforward humor in the books. The endings of all the books were surprises!

The best thing is of course that each book has a free-standing well-planned ending.  But believe me, if you have read one, you would want to read them all. They are that relaxing!  I recommend this series to everyone who loves light-hearted, yet riveting tales of murder, greed, cheap poshyness, the nouveau-riche spectacles, and the how-to-not-show-wealth in society spotlighted this way. Of course, a sense of humor is essential. If you take life too seriously, you won't make it. But if you need a fun read with a mystery twist, this is it! For those who refuse to grow up, this will be a winner!


They call them "pretty parties," and they're the latest rage among Dallas debutantes—get-togethers with light refreshments, heavy gossip, and Dr. Sonja Madhavi and her magic Botox needles. Former socialite Andy Kendricks normally wouldn't be caught dead at such an event, but she's attending as a favor to her friend Janet, a society reporter in search of a juicy story. And boy does she find one when aging beauty queen Miranda DuBois bursts into the room—drunk, disorderly, and packing a pistol.

Miranda's wrinkles have seen better days, and she blames it all on Dr. Madhavi. Luckily, Andy calms her down and gets her home to bed . . . where she's found dead the next morning. The police suspect suicide, but Andy knows that no former pageant girl would give up that easily. She's determined to find Miranda's killer herself, but she'll have to be careful. After all, Botox can make you look younger, but it can't bring you back from the grave.


Susan McBride is the author of Very Bad Things, a young adult thriller out from Delacorte in October of 2014. She also writes women's fiction, including The Truth About Love & Lightning (William Morrow, 02/13), Little Black Dress (09/11), and The Cougar Club (02/10). She has a short memoir called In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After 40 (06/12), about becoming an "accidental Cougar" at 41, marrying a younger man, being diagnosed with breast cancer at 42, and having her first child at 47. Susan was named "Survivor of the Year" by the St. Louis chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2012 and was dubbed one of St. Louis's "Most Dynamic" in 2012 by the Ladue News.

Susan previously wrote the award-winning Debutante Dropout Mysteries (Avon Paperbacks), including Blue Blood, The Good Girl's Guide To Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night Of The Living Deb, and Too Pretty To Die. She has authored several YA series books for Random House about debutantes in Houston, the debut in 2008 appropriately titled The Debs and followed by Love, Lies, And Texas Dips in 2009. Gloves Off, the third book, has not yet been released.

Visit Susan's web site at for more info.

Genres: Murder, Mystery, Suspense, Dallas Texas, Satire, Romance, Young adult
Formats: Paperback
Number of pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Avon
Publishing date: Original January 29, 2008; Digital: January, 24th, 2014
Edition Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060846011
ISBN-13: 978-0060846015
Purchase links: Buy the book: IndieBound | Barnes & Noble |  
Buy the ebook: Barnes & Noble | | KoboAwards: Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award winner, Best Amateur Sleuth Mystery

Books in the Debutante Dropout Mystery Series

#1 Blue Blood
#2 The Good Girl's Guide to Murder
#3 The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club
#4 Night of the Living Deb
#5 Too Pretty to Die

I value you comments, please feel free to leave some.


gpangel said...

I just read Blue Blood and loved it. I have several more on my TBR list now. I loved your review!

Margitte said...

Thanks gpangel! Blue blood was a good start to the series, I would say.It also inspired me to read the rest.