Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

Mystery Book

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

4 Stars

Illustrated book cover shows a woman in a red dress, standing before a mirror and looking over her shoulder as a shadow stands in the doorway behind herDesign for Dying by Renee Patrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The 1937 silver screen is sparkling, and though Lillian Frost hasn’t made it as an actress, she’s okay with working in a Los Angeles department store. But then her salesgirl job ties her to the case of a murdered Hollywood hopeful in Design for Dying by authors Renee Patrick.

Yes. I said “authors,” there. I was delighted to see that Renee Patrick is the pseudonym of a husband-and-wife author duo. How fun is that?

And this historical mystery novel is rather fun too, but not silly fun. Lillian has a mild, dry humor to her, and though she hasn’t yet found her ideal place in life, she’s got a good head on her shoulders. There’s a crisp smartness to the story’s style, and it’s entertaining without trivializing the murder or the seamy side of Hollywood glamour.

I’ll admit it’s borderline material for my quasi-conservative tastes, partly due to the moderate amount of language I wouldn’t use. But the novel does hold to a level of tact, and it helps that Lillian isn’t a starry-eyed chickadee zooming recklessly down Sunset Boulevard’s fast lane.

While this is a Lillian Frost & Edith Head novel, it’s told from Lillian’s perspective. So I would’ve liked if she ultimately played a stronger role in the solving of the case, instead of more or less being along for the ride when the rubber finally meets the road.

Still, the story’s nod to Lillian’s mother’s legacy is touching. And in all, as the novel has left me in the mood to once again watch the 1937 version of A Star is Born, I think it’s done its job.

Design for Dying is the first Lillian Frost & Edith Head novel. Here’s my review of the second novel, Dangerous to Know.

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