Not a Girl Detective

Not a Girl Detective

3.1 8
by Susan Kandel
     
 

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"I spent my entire youth idolizing Nancy Drew. I'm pushing forty now, but some fantasies die hard."

Besides her beloved collection of vintage designer clothing, there is nothing Cece Caruso cherishes more than her childhood memories of Nancy Drew. Her near obsession with the fictional teenage sleuth led her to become a professional

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Overview

"I spent my entire youth idolizing Nancy Drew. I'm pushing forty now, but some fantasies die hard."

Besides her beloved collection of vintage designer clothing, there is nothing Cece Caruso cherishes more than her childhood memories of Nancy Drew. Her near obsession with the fictional teenage sleuth led her to become a professional biographer of classic mystery writers. And now that she's working on a book about Nancy's pseudonymous creator, "Carolyn Keene, " Cece's in heaven.

At the L. A. home of another rabid Drew-ophile, Cece finds a treasure trove of useful memorabilia, including one unique and somewhat shocking collectible. Later she finds a dead body — and a puzzle that would sorely test the skills of her spunky girlhood heroine. Now she'll have to channel her former idol and unmask a murderer, and the killer may be coming for Cece next.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kandel delivers on the promise of her first Cece Caruso mystery, I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason (2004), with this equally zany and engrossing riff on Southern California culture past and present. Secrets within secrets tantalize biographer Cece as she researches "Carolyn Keene," the pseudonym used by the unsung authors hired by the Stratemeyer Syndicate to write the Nancy Drew books. Invited to keynote the annual Nancy Drew fan convention in Palm Springs, Cece plans to weekend with girlfriends Lael and Bridget at the home of the biggest collector of Nancy memorabilia, Edgar Edwards. When Edwards turns up behind his Palm Springs house with a bullet in his forehead and his current boytoy disappears, the race is on for Cece to find the killer before she becomes the next victim. Cheerful Lael and conniving Bridget lend support, along with Cece's hot boyfriend, cop Peter Gambino. In addition to all the Nancy lore, Kandel weaves her knowledge of art into the puzzle and ties everything into a splendid bow. Readers will be anxious to know whose bio she'll tackle next. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (On sale May 24) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Mystery biographer Caruso does some sleuthing of her own during a Nancy Drew convention. Los Angeles Times best-selling Kandel (I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason) lives in West Hollywood, CA. Southern California regional author appearances. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Hip, feisty Cece Caruso is back. Writing biographies of dead mystery authors tends to land her in odd situations, and, as she researches Carolyn Keene, the fictitiously named author of the "Nancy Drew" books, she is drawn into the murder of a wealthy collector of series memorabilia. Cece has something that the killer wants; while trying to figure out what it is, she finds herself crossing paths with several people who stand to gain from the victim's death. The characters are deliciously drawn, the pace is snappy, and the plot twists and turns will keep mystery lovers satisfied. As entertaining as Cece and the other characters are, the icing on the cake is the depth of Kandel's research. Readers who enjoyed following the teen sleuth's adventures will appreciate the insight into the history of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the organization responsible for producing numerous children's series. Kandel provides an informative glimpse into 1930s and 1940s book publishing, introducing Mildred Wirt Benson, the author of 22 of the first 25 Nancy Drews; Russell Tandy, the illustrator of the early covers; and Grace Horton, the professional model who was her "face." The author blends fact and fiction with assurance, using these real people to set up a plot that ultimately involves Salvador Dali's art. While those who grew up with the girl detective are the ideal audience, Cece's wit and tenacity as she breezes around Los Angeles and Palm Springs make the novel an enjoyable read for anyone in the mood for a lighthearted mystery.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061973055
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Series:
CeCe Caruso Mysteries , #2
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
763,317
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Not a Girl Detective

A Cece Caruso Mystery
By Susan Kandel

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Susan Kandel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060581077

Chapter One

When I couldn't tell the rain from my tears I knew it was time to pull over. I laid my arms across the steering wheel and choked back a sob. I had gone through the first four stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression. Now I was stuck on stage five -- damning the mechanic. But what good was that going to do? My Toyota Camry was dying. Not peacefully but spectacularly, with great plumes of smoke emanating from the rear and strange wails coming out of the airconditioning vents.

Yesterday, the tape deck shredded Frank Sinatra's greatest hits. The day before, the cup holder snapped off in my hands, sending Diet Coke all over my favorite beaded sweater. Hell, if I had known it was going to end like this, I would've leased a Jaguar in the first place.

If only I were the cheerful sort, like my best friend Lael. It's unseemly how cheerful Lael is. That's all I'll say. Or conniving, like my second best friend, Bridget, who knows just what to say when, and to whom. Scary. Or better yet, the resourceful type, like teenage supersleuth Nancy Drew. I spent my entire youth idolizing that girl. I'm pushing forty now, but some fantasies die hard.

If only I were Nancy Drew.

I'd pull some Vaseline out of my handbag and fix those windshield wipers lickety-split. I'd solve the mystery of the airconditioning vents with my superior knowledge of dehumidifi- cation, say. And if I couldn't get the car to stop smoking by any other means, I'd ask my daddy to buy me a new one. A pretty blue roadster to match my pretty blue eyes.

Self-recrimination has long been a favorite pastime. I could keep it going forever, but I had someplace to be. I opened the car door and stepped directly into a puddle. Damn. With my raincoat pulled up over my head, I waded around back and stared at the exhaust pipe in wonder. How could it betray me? Vexed, I gave it a kick. It belched, evil thing. Then it occurred to me that it could explode any second -- the whole car, I mean. These things do happen. But I was such a sodden mess I probably wasn't combustible. And they say it never rains in Southern California.

I fished my cell phone out of my purse and was about to call for a tow when I realized the bookstore I was heading to was only a few blocks away. I decided to make a run for it. That would be the end of my spike-heeled boots, of course, but they were already halfway to kingdom come. Maybe I could claim them as a business expense. I'd been taking a more aggressive approach to tax deductions lately. My accountant's thinking was that I made so little money they'd never in a million years bother auditing me. I wasn't sure that was sound reasoning, but Mr. Keshigian had managed to keep all his gangster relations out of the hands of the IRS, so I could hardly question his expertise. And god forbid he should fix me up with one of the cousins again.

Dodging the mud puddles, I sprinted down Melrose Avenue. No one sipping organic coffee at the Bodhisattva Café today. What a neighborhood. On sunny days you could drop your car with the Bodhisattva's valet, pick up a soy latte to go, and in the space of a single city block have your palm read, buy a New Age tome, get your colon cleaned, and take a ceramics class -- not necessarily in that order. It wasn't my thing. I grew up in New Jersey. I live for synthetics.

Frederick A. Dalthorp Rare Books and Bindery was just around the corner, and talk about synthetic. It had fake gothic spires poking into the sky, stained-glass windows, turrets. No serving wenches, however. Too bad. I could've used a tankard of ale right about then. Nope, just the Dalthorp twins. They'd inherited the business from their father, Frederick, a smooth operator who'd sweet-talked the building out of some morticians who'd been there since the thirties. The Dalthorps were cousins of my purported boyfriend, Peter Gambino. A few weekends ago we'd had brunch together and they'd made a big to-do over Gambino's mocha chip pancakes, which I found impossible to stomach myself. But those girls were clearly addicted to sugar. They were eating marzipan at their desks when I pushed open the massive wooden door.

"Heave ho!" I said.

"For god's sake, don't spray the books!" yelled Dena, the older of the two by seventeen minutes and accustomed to milking every one of them.

"What do you think I am, a Saint Bernard?"

"Oh, Cece," murmured Victoria, Dena's more politic sister, "look at your turtleneck! It shrank in the rain!" She handed me a wad of paper towels.

"It's cropped," I explained, drying off. "It's supposed to be that way. It matches my cropped toreador pants."

"Good god," said Dena. Dena did not appreciate fashion. She was wearing a shapeless woolen sweater, a longish kilt, and brogues. Perfect for stomping through the heather.

Victoria gave me a sympathetic look. "I'm sure you looked lovely."

"Thank you," I said, crushed by her use of the past tense.

"The seventies, right?"

"The fifties, actually. Gina Lollabrigida goes beatnik?"

I was used to being misunderstood. My mother, a rummage-sale diva, never met a pot holder she couldn't love. Or a TV tray table not worth saving. She'd happily plunk down five dollars for a moribund blender, ten dollars for a card table with three legs. Yet she was unable to figure out why I'd want to wear old clothes. Worse yet, somebody else's old clothes.

"So what's this about Nancy Drew?" Dena asked.

The chitchat was over.

"Cece's writing a book about Nancy Drew!" Victoria exclaimed ...

Continues...


Excerpted from Not a Girl Detective by Susan Kandel Copyright © 2005 by Susan Kandel. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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