Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Million Dollar Baby by Amy Patricia Meade

I love a good historical crime novel, and Amy Patricia Meade's first one has rocketed to the top of my list!  While it has the classic elements of my favorite old-time detectives, it has a modern twist as a woman takes the lead.  Marjorie McClelland is smart, sassy, stylish and independent, but that doesn't mean she isn't on the lookout for Mr. Right!  Her antics as she tries to catch him kept me giggling all the way through this book.
The Depression is still raging in America, but Marjorie is surviving by writing mystery novels.  She's a twenty-something single woman living in a small town in Connecticut.  Even though the whole town seems to think she should go out with a local doctor, she's holding out for someone tall, dark and handsome.  When she meets Creighton Ashcroft, it's love at first sight--for him.  He determines to try to win Marjorie's affections, but she isn't swayed by his English accent, good look his fortune.  He agrees to help her write her next book as a way to get closer to her.  Creighton has just bought the biggest house in Ridgebury, not knowing about the man who committed suicide there five years earlier.  When he takes Marjorie to the slightly run-down mansion to show it off to her, she discovers a skeleton in the backyard.  When she and Creighton are interviewed by the local police, Marjorie meets Detective Robert Jameson.  He is exactly what she thinks a man should be.  So she talks Creighton into going with her to the police station to volunteer their services to Detective Jameson to help find the murderer.  Creighton sees through her plan and makes it is goal to keep Jameson and Marjorie apart. 
But while this book does have it's share of funny, romantic moments, it also has a classic "whodunit" written a style similar to Agatha Christie.  Marjorie, Creighton and Detective Jameson work together to reopen an old case, prove that it wasn't suicide and then connect it to the body they recently found.  This plot has a lot of twists and turns and is much more sinister than you'll believe at first.  The reason for the title isn't obvious, but it works in pretty smoothly without feeling forced.
This book is charming and funny and has everything I like in a good crime story.  I loved the funny lighthearted moments, and the banter between Marjorie and Creighton.  I like that there's a sweet love story (or two) brewing under the surface.  But the author doesn't allow the fun and romance to detract from a complex mystery.  I felt like there was something the detectives were missing, but couldn't figure out what it was.  There is a really great ending here.  I love the characters, and feel like they're realistic for the time period.  The dialogue feels real, too, and isn't over-the-top or cheesy.  I absolutely loved Marjorie's attempts at playing the femme fatale to catch Jameson's attention, but I'm still holding out hope for her and Creighton in the next book, which I've already started reading!  This is a series I'm really excited about!

Happy Reading!

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own, and a favorable review was not required.   

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