Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First comes the review, and then if you keep reading you’ll get the funny story of how I crossed paths with the author of this one. How’s that for a teaser?
Dayna Anderson had 15 minutes of fame thanks to starring in a string of TV commercials for a fast-food chicken place. However, after losing that job she’s now struggling to get by, and she’s desperate to make some quick cash to prevent the bank from foreclosing on her parents’ house. Inspiration comes after Dayna sees a billboard offering a large cash reward for tips on the hit-and-run death of a young woman, and Dayna realizes that she and some friends had almost been struck by a reckless car that was most likely the same one that killed the girl.
At first Dayna is just hoping that finding out the details will help jog her memory so that she can give the cops a clue and get paid, but soon she finds herself drawn into the mystery. Once Dayna sets out to find the killer not even the quickly dwindling minutes on her phone plan can stop her investigation.
Amateur sleuths usually aren’t my favorite sub-genre of mysteries, but I had a really good time with this one. Kellye Garrett has a great sense of comedic timing in her writing, and I had many a laugh-out-loud moment. (I listened to the audio version, and the narrator Bahni Turpin helped the jokes land as well.) She also uses the celebrity obsessed culture of Hollywood to great effect and gets a lot of mileage out of Dayna’s humorous observations about it. It’s also a nice touch that Dayna isn’t just pointing and mocking. She was part of that world, and still has an interest in it so while she may poke gentle fun at her best friend’s relentless seeking of fame it’s done with affection.
I also enjoyed Dayna because after reading about a ton of super-macho tough guy detectives it was refreshing to have someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing as a lead character. Not that Dayna comes across as stupid, just inexperienced, and enthusiasm often gets the better of her common sense. That helps add to the comedic elements, but her pure determination and a wealth of knowledge from watching true crime shows keep Dayna hot on the trail of the killer even as she’s clueless about her own love life. She’s a classic underdog that you can’t help but root for.
Overall, it’s a funny and entertaining mystery with a great lead character that has some sharp observations about Hollywood.
And now for the bonus story…
I was at Bouchercon in Dallas last fall, and in addition to seeing some of my favorite writers I watched several interesting people I had never read before on panels so I made a point out of buying a copy of their books and trying to meet them at some point. That’s already paid off with books by authors like Eryk Pruitt, Jennifer Hillier, and SA (Shawn) Cosby.
Unfortunately, none of those authors was Kellye Garrett.
In fact, I had never heard of her or seen her on any panels. So I probably sounded completely rude and ignorant when I happened to meet her in the hotel bar one night and asked her what kind of stuff she wrote. The extra embarrassing thing for me is that although I didn’t know it at the time she had just come from the Anthony Awards where she had been nominated for Best Novel. She politely told me about this series and handed me a promotional card for one of the books.
Afterwards, I started following several of those authors on Twitter, and Kellye’s name kept coming up. That’s where I saw that her books were about to be released on Audible so I had this on deck when I read My Darkest Prayer. I noted in in my review that that Shawn Cosby had been a huge presence at Bouchercon.
And who should just so happen to comment on that review? That’s right. Kellye Garrett. She was shocked to hear that we had met at that Bouchercon. (I was relived that she didn’t say, “Oh, you were THAT asshole?!?) Then it was my turn to be shocked when she complimented me on some of the reviews I’d done on the Spenser series she’d read before.
After that I felt like I was destined to read this book, and I'm glad I did.
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