I try very hard not to choose review books that are second or third in a series, but sometimes it happens. At times a sequel can be enjoyed without reading a book before it, and I think that could be the case with What Happened on Beale Street. While it follows some of the same characters as the first book in the Secret of the South Mysteries series, it doesn’t seem to build on that story too much. So, if I had liked this book just a little more, I might have been able to finish it and give it a good review here.
The plot itself is interesting, and truly the only reason I read a s far as I did. Nikki Price is a private investigator in New Orleans. She’s recently been named a partner in her cousin, Nate’s, detective agency. She’s engaged to a very wealthy man, who she apparently saved from a murder conviction in the last book. Nikki gets a late-night call from an old friend, Danny, telling her he’s in trouble and begging her to help him. At first she believes he’s joking, but finally decided to go to Memphis to see if she can help. Nate insists on traveling with her, and Gavin, the wealthy fiancé, insists on paying all of their expenses. But when they arrive in Memphis they find that Danny has been murdered. They step in to help the police find the murderer. Added to the mix is Danny’s sister, Isabelle, who it seems that Nate had a crush on in high school. She always looked down on him then, and still does. But Isabelle has her own, seemingly unrelated issue with a stalker, who may be planning to kill her. Nate and Nikki also volunteer to help figure out who is leaving the horrific messages at her apartment.
This is about as far as I made it in this book. The story about Danny’s murder was so intriguing, and the issue of Isabelle’s stalker added another layer of interest to the book. However, the characters and dialogue in this novel were so ridiculous that I couldn’t force myself to read any more. I think Nikki is supposed to come off as a fast-talking, temperamental spitfire who leaps before she looks. Instead, she comes off as whiny, demanding and spoiled. I thought I might scream if she called Gavin “that sweet man” one more time. She is removed from the case early on for threatening the lead detective and medical examiner in the case, so the author sends her on some sort of wild goose chase for a missing treasure in their fancy hotel. Maybe this works into the story later as something of importance, but I can’t find it so far. It seems more like Nate is to receive all the glory in solving this case, and ultimately win the girl, so Nikki just needed to be conveniently moved to the side. Nate’s character was okay, but Isabelle seemed to be the clichéd “mean girl” with a tough exterior who’s really just hurting on the inside. I also hated that the lead detective was written as a macho man who was looking for a reason to flirt with Isabelle, even at the scene where Danny’s murdered body was found. He didn’t care what really happened to Danny, since the police assumed he was a drug addict. They quickly locked up a suspect, and only Nate cared that maybe they didn’t get the right guy. It makes me very angry when police officers are depicted this way, and it was one more reason that I gave up this book.
I would like to know who murdered Danny, and why. And I’m curious about Isabelle’s stalker. But not enough to continue reading this book. It isn’t one I would recommend to anyone.
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and a favorable review was not required.