Monday, December 12, 2016

Series Spotlight: The Debutante Dropout Mystery Series by Susan McBride

Another transfer post from BookLikes.

This cozy mystery series, written by Susan McBride, is wonderfully modern without trying to hard to be hip. The amateur sleuth, Andrea Blevins-Kendricks (aka Andie) is a Dallas, Texan blue blood that rebelled at 18 by ditching her coming out party and going to art school. Among other societal faux pas, she works as a web designer (sometimes doing pro bono work for non-profits) and drives a Jeep. But no matter what, she loves her friends and family.

Now if Andie could just stop finding dead bodies everywhere, that would be great.

Here are my reviews of the books I have read in order of appearance in series:

Blue Blood - 5 stars
Trigger warning: There is a scene in the beginning of the book that is a sexual harassment/attempted rape and stalker behavior.  There are also references to videotaping of consensual sex without permission of one of the participants.

Her mother, the high matron of Dallas rich society, was eye-rolling superficial and clich√© for the first 25-30% of the book, then Cissy does something that just freaking endeared me to her; by the end of the book, I didn't know who to love more, the daughter or mother. I freaking loved the scenes with Andie and Brian - there was a real connection that at times made me think this was a romance and not a cozy mystery. Brian is a great beta hero - something I needed to balance out all the alphas I read in historical romances. 

The Good Girl's Guide to Murder - 4.5 stars
Andie learned her lesson from the last book and called for back up/had a Plan B before sneaking into a potential threatening situation.
The structure of the story was a new twist (at least to this cozy mystery newbie). Rather than having the murder happen immediately in the first couple of chapters, we don't get the murder until Chapter 20. In the lead up, I got a wonderful story and a list of suspects that I really felt I knew -- making the mystery more engrossing. Also, there were a series of mishaps prior to the murder, so there was a plot going on with all the characters.
The one problem I had with the book was the MASSIVE INFODUMPING in the first two chapters. The info was on the relationship between Cissy (mom and socialite to beat all other socialites) and Andrea. If you read book one, you got a good handle on this relationship already; chapter one and two was complete overkill.
The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club - 5 stars
I love this series the more I read it. Completely engaging mystery and the humor kept me reading long after I should of put the book down and made dinner. Cissy takes center stage, and earns it because she listens to her gut.
I learned a valuable lesson - know your state's history - for if you ever need an alias, you can always go with the name of one of the dead corrupt officials that ran your state. Knowledge is power people. I love the new recurring character Stephen Howard - who was the only person outside Cissy and Andie who figured out the history of Cissy's alias. Then he went along for the ride and kept up the ruse.
Humor was in regards to situations, not people. There was not a whiff of sexism or ageism - since the book focuses on the dating lives of those living in retirement communities, it would be easy to mock the love lives/loneliness of older people, but Ms. McBride avoids that in respect to her characters and readers.
Night of the Living Deb - 3.5 stars
First, you have to read the acknowledgments at the front of the book - Ms. McBride does her research very thoroughly.
I have been waiting for Malone to make a real appearance back into the series. He has been a telephone call for the last couple of books and I wanted a few scenes with him and Andie. As it turns out, this book is all about Malone - how to clear his name and at the same time save him from being killed by his kidnapper. Cissy, Stephen, and Ali had to pick up a lot of the detective work because Andie was too emotional to think straight. And Andie really didn't listen to her gut or the advice from others - she let the fear take over. This is not the kind of Andie I wanted to see. Once Andie got her groove back, it was game on. This was my least favorite book in the series.
Too Pretty to Die - 5 stars
This installment was just fun and funny that I ended up reading it faster than probably the other books in the series. Andie is a bit reckless in this book, but smart enough to get herself out of sticky situations. She also has good instincts, knowing the murder wasn't a suicide from the beginning. Cops are pretty incompetent in this book - less bitchy attitudes, more solving crimes so that Andie doesn't have to do the job for the police may help. The side story with Janet's job was interesting motivation for Andie to help solve the case. I hope the PI that Cissy and Stephen hired doesn't become a possible love interest for Andie. I don't do love triangles, and I am too vested in Malone's relationship with Andie to see her with someone else.

Say Yes to the Death - 4.5 stars
It was fun being back with Andie and the gang from Dallas. The characters were still rock solid as before, and the plot was page turning, if somewhat predictable as I guessed correctly who was the murderer after certain clues dropped. Cissy is still my favorite character. This book also tied up some loose ends from the previous book, making the entire story arc satisfying. Can't wait for #7.

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