Monday, January 25, 2016

A Second Chance At Murder - Diana Orgain

A Second Chance At Murder
A Love Or Money Mystery
Diana Orgain
Berkley Prime Crime


After competing in one reality show called For Love Or Money, you’d think Georgia Thornton would like to take a break from the limelight and try to deal with her personal life.  Actually, you’d be right about that.  That’s exactly what she wants to do.  The sad truth is, though, any money from the first show has already been eaten up by taxes, paying existing bills, and investing in Georgia’s dad’s farm.   So winning another cash prize would be nice.  And the producers are all about getting Georgia on another show after her extra-curricular activities (A FIRST DATE WITH MURDER) generated so much press.  The concept is familiar enough.  This time, several teams of two will compete with each other by performing stunts or completing a scavenger hunt while travelling through various overseas locations. 

And that, in a nutshell, is why Georgia wakes up in the pitch blackness of a freezing tent, camped out somewhere in the Spanish Pyrenees.  Almost the first thing she notices (besides the cold, the dark, and the rock she’s sleeping on) is that Scott, her boyfriend, isn’t in the tent.  Cell phones are useless, so that won’t help.  Not willing to suffer alone, she pulls on her cold weather clothes and goes looking.  She doesn’t find Scott, but she does find a coupe other contestants wandering around the campsite.  One went to the outhouse, one can’t sleep, the usual.  They agree to help her search. 

Minutes away from the camp, they stumble over the dead body of a woman.  She doesn’t belong to the cast or the crew; she’s a stranger to everyone.  There’s another clue: a watch on the ground beside the dead woman.  It looks very much like the watch Scott has been wearing.  The police arrive and do a search, finding nothing else.  They ask for everyone’s passports.  Georgia retrieves hers, and then looks for Scott’s.  It’s not among his things.  Did he kill the woman then run?  Or did he take his passport in the dead of night and leave the tent (and Georgia) meaning not to return?  Or, as the police seem to think, did Georgia do away with her boyfriend in the middle of the night?

Given this set of circumstances, Georgia has a very personal stake in the outcome of the case.  She was dumped at the altar by her last boyfriend, so thinking Scott walked out on her is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to draw.  As before, her friend, Becca, is on the scene as a producer of the show.  Becca has a balancing act to perform, between her duties as a friend, and her duty to her career.  The author skillfully mixes the various characters (who are uniformly entertaining,) Spanish scenery and customs, and the sometimes near-lunacy of filming a TV show, making the whole a great deal richer than the sum of its parts.  It’s great fun to follow Georgia behind the scenes of a reality show, meeting people on both sides of the cameras.  I hope she continues long into the future.    

Rating: 7 ½
January 2016
ISBN# 978-0-425-27169-8  (paperback)