Sunday, March 22, 2015

A First Date With Death - Diana Orgain

A First Date With Death
A Love Or Money Mystery
Diana Orgain
Berkley Prime Crime
We all know the basic setup: A single woman, looking for love; several (apparently) eligible bachelors; a bunch of over-the-top dates; and the one-by-one eliminations.  It’s all supposed to lead to romance.  The twist on this reality show is that there’s also a large cash prize.  And only half the men competing are really looking for love.  The other half are after the money.  The single woman doesn’t know who’s who until the end.   If she ends up with a guy looking for money, that guy takes the money and leaves her looking like a fool.
The single woman in question is Georgia Thornton.  She used to be a cop in San Francisco, until quite recently.  That didn’t end well.  She was engaged to a fellow officer who left her standing at the altar, so that didn’t end well, either.  Georgia’s best friend, Becca, is an assistant producer on the show, and recruited Georgia, figuring that either outcome (love or money) would be great for Georgia.
That’s why Georgia finds herself standing on the Golden Gate Bridge one early morning, being strapped into a harness, about to bungee jump over the Bay, with cameras recording it all.  She doesn’t want to do it, but there are contracts and obligations and a lot of pressure from everyone around her.  Something goes wrong on the first jump, and the unfortunate bachelor hits the Bay at full speed.  Everyone is horrified, but the show must go on, and in true Hollywood fashion, that first bachelor is replaced by Georgia’s ex, Paul, who will be investigating, while pretending to compete.
A reality show is a great idea as the backdrop of a new book series.  Everyone has at least a passing familiarity with the way reality shows work, so there’s not too much needed in the way of explanation on the ‘game’ side of things.  As the book progresses, readers find out which men are there for love and which for money.  And, by extension, who might want to commit murder, and why.  Although Paul claims he’s only there undercover, it’s clear from the outset that he wants to get back together with Georgia.  For readers who enjoy a bit of romance with your mystery, this series is tailor-made.
Readers who just like a good mystery will be pleased as well.  The background is interesting, the characters are realistic, and the personalities are diverse.  I especially enjoyed the very real friendship between Georgia and Becca, and Georgia's relationship with her dad.  While filming 'reality,' the layers of possible deception pile up quickly: what’s real; what’s real for the cameras; what’s real for investigative purposes; what’s real for purposes of the game.  The result is a fast-moving plot with several twists and a satisfying solution.  This is the first installment in what looks to be a very entertaining cozy mystery series.       
Rating: 7
March 2015
ISBN# 978-0-425-27168-1 (paperback)


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