Available on Kindle, Amazon.co.uk, and Barnes and Noble
How can you not like a character named Happy Pennington, the daughter of a retired cop and the current reigning Ms. America? Well, I liked her! Add her sidekicks in crime-solving, fellow Beauty Queens Shanelle and Trixie, and a hunk named Mario Suave (yes!) and you have a fast-paced, funny, roller coaster ride through Vegas.
When Happy agreed to be a bridesmaid for snarky pageant-wear shop owner Sally Anne Gibbons, she wasn't counting on the skimpy bridesmaid's outfit. Or the ostrich feather tiara. Or the murder. Under the cover of a haze of pink smoke, the wedding's best man, Danny, is done in. The main suspect is Sally's fiancee, Frank, who is also the murder victim's uncle. Frank is definitely hiding something, as is Danny's indifferent girlfriend, Cassidy Flanagan. The more Happy finds out about Danny, the less sorry she is that he's been murdered. Still, Sally Anne deserves to have a groom for her wedding, so Happy is determined to discover the truth and clear Frank's name, and it doesn't hurt that Mario Suave, the mysterious, handsome pageant emcee is on hand to offer his assistance. Or does it? After all, Happy is a happily married woman.
I love that Ms. Dempsey nails her locations so you really feel as if you're there. When reading MS. AMERICA AND THE OFFING IN OAHU, I was craving a Mai Tai by the beach. In this second installment of the Beauty Queen Mysteries, I wanted an all night buffet and a glitzy show.
And as a girl without much interest or ability in fashion, I suddenly found myself wanting to learn makeup tips and practice walking with my shoulders back. That's a credit to the subtle details Ms. Dempsey includes in each book, from references to designer clothing and accessories to the occasional revelation that exposes the secrets behind Beauty Queen perfection.
The mystery was fun, and the ancillary characters, such as the abrasive Sally Anne and her friendly but furtive fiancee Frank, help carry the story to a grand finale. The characters remain lovable because they have family values (in the truest sense of the word) and none of them are superhuman. They fumble. They fall. They temporarily fail. Just as we would in the same position.
The Beauty Queen Mysteries are on my must read list, and I can't wait for the next installment.
Check out Diana Dempsey's website for info on the author and on other series and books that she writes. Hint: I'm just getting started on CHASING VENUS. Sound's like another winner!