E-book original, Kindle and Nook 2012
Steve Brewer’s famous character Bubba Mabry is nowhere in sight. This book belongs to Loretta Kimball, President and Newsletter Editor of the International Michael Girard Fan Club, operating from the one-horse town of Pandora. In reality, Pandora is barely a one-horse town. It’s more like a half-horse town but thanks to the Internet it’s a perfectly adequate place for the headquarters of an international fan club.
The story is from Loretta’s point of view, written in first person, so we are caught up in her life from the first page. Opening line: “When I first heard that my film idol was coming to New Mexico, you could've knocked me over with a feather boa.”
Michael Girard will arrive in Santa Fe as star of a film festival ramrodded by the Santa Fe Silver Screen Society. Santa Fe is only a three-hour drive, and Loretta uses her wifely wiles to persuade her husband Harley to pack a tuxedo and take her to Santa Fe.
As fan club president, Loretta is friends with Girard’s assistant. She’s assured of a chance to hang out with the VIPs and do an interview with Girard. Harley buys a tux from eBay and off they go. The festival is a lark. Brewer makes hilarious hash out of everything from the posturing of drama queens to equipment malfunctions, to hangers on, to wannabe film producers trying to sell a project.
The only real fly in Loretta's ointment is an old high school nemesis named Mitzi. A congenital scene-hogger, Mitzi is president of everything in Pandora. She shows up at the festival dressed to kill, trailing Loretta like a shadow. Mitzi is the center of attention – until the first body drops.
Brewer does have a way with words. A character takes a high dive from a hotel window and lands on the sidewalk at Loretta's feet. (Quote) She looked like a bag of elbows. I leaned closer. Her face was smashed on one side, flattened against the unyielding concrete. The other eye was wide open, looking right at me. I screamed at the top of my lungs. (End Quote)
Loretta reels from the shock until her imagination goes into overdrive and she decides that a famous actress probably lured the victim up to the roof for a private chat under the stars: "Why, that would be lovely -- whoops, splat."
More murders spur Loretta into action, determined to find the killer, save Girard’s reputation and get that interview. The secret to her success: “I've raised two children and sent them to college. After that, most everything seems doable."
This is a funny, gossipy small-town mystery. I loved the characters and hope to meet them again.
Review by Pat Browning