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Posted April 1, 2004
A Rather Lame Chapter in the Series
MURDER BY DESIGN is the second installment in the Rick Domino Mystery series. This time around, Hollywood TV gossip reporter, (think, Steve Kametko) Rick, has been asked to be a participant on the wildly popular program, My House, Your House, a sort of Trading Spaces knock-off. On the program two couples exchange addresses and with the help of a member of the show¿s design team, redesign a room in the other¿s home. Of course being on this show is not Rick¿s idea but rather that of his ratings obsessed boss, Max Headroom. Rick is financially strapped at the moment, and, as he would really like to change his living room, reluctantly agrees to the project. Rick is currently single, leaving him without a partner for the show, so he is forced by Max to team with his TV co-host Mitzy McQuire, whom he can not stand. It¿s bad enough that he has to work with her every week, but now this? The other couple, chosen by Rick, is recently out cop, Terry Zane, (Rick¿s crime solving partner in the first book of the series, BEST MURDER OF THE YEAR) and his ex-wife, Darla Sue. During the course of the ¿house swap¿ the designer working with Rick and Mitzy, Helena, is murdered and the show¿s carpenter, Ann Margaret Wochinsky, is accused of the crime. Ann Margaret just happens to be Terry¿s cousin. You got all that? Believe me, there¿s more, and it gets sillier and sillier. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, it was pleasantly over-the-top, had a nice catty take on the Hollywood scene, and was a great little diversion as far as murder mysteries go. The relationship between Rick and Terry showed promise, and I looked forward to the next installment. Unfortunately, this second book has lost the sophisticated edge of the first novel. The characters here are totally unbelievable, and the plot twists are just plain ridiculous. Where the first book was amusing, this one is absurd and completely contrived. I couldn¿t put the first book down, and I had to force myself to pick this book up and finish it. The relationship between Rick and Terry (the best part of both books) still crackles with sexual tension but it doesn¿t move much beyond what was established the first go round, a big disappointment for me. I sincerely hope the next book spends a little more time advancing their special bond. If you read BEST MURDER OF THE YEAR, and enjoyed it, than certainly, give MURDER BY DESIGN a try. Despite its shortcomings, the writing still maintains that tongue-in-cheek quality that made the first book so much fun. However, if you are expecting the same level of entertainment achieved the first time, I¿m afraid you too will be extraordinarily let down. Perhaps it can be blamed on the subject matter, or maybe the complete lack of sympathetic supporting characters, but this novel simply does not live up to its predecessor. One can only hope the next installment will be much improved.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.