The last thing Verity Birdwood wants is a beauty makeover. But when the scrappy TV researcher goes on assignment to a luxurious spa, that's just what she gets. A glimpse of the glamorous retreat's lurid intrigues gives Birdie the creeps - even before she discovers a shocking connection with a serial killer. When Margot Bell, the spa's icily stylish owner, is grotesquely stabbed to death, and a raging storm traps the occupants of the mansion with a corpse and an unknown murderer, Birdie's sleuthing instincts ...
The last thing Verity Birdwood wants is a beauty makeover. But when the scrappy TV researcher goes on assignment to a luxurious spa, that's just what she gets. A glimpse of the glamorous retreat's lurid intrigues gives Birdie the creeps - even before she discovers a shocking connection with a serial killer. When Margot Bell, the spa's icily stylish owner, is grotesquely stabbed to death, and a raging storm traps the occupants of the mansion with a corpse and an unknown murderer, Birdie's sleuthing instincts spring into action. Searching for a motive, she swiftly excavates a trail of torment, treachery, and blackmail. The spa's skillful hairstylist and silent partner, the harassed housekeeper, the hysterical male secretary, and the hunk of a masseur who was the dead woman's lover - all had reason to resent Margot. Then there are the pampered guests, from fat Josie to gaunt Helen, neurotic Belinda to ambitious Edwina - each presenting a possible motive. As a flood ravages the countryside, Birdie asks herself if Margot's murder was a "copycat killing," or if a demented and practiced slayer is about to strike again. Then a second savage stabbing tells Birdie she must discover the killer's identity before he or she can claim yet another victim.
Australian TV researcher Verity Birdwood, seen most recently in Death in Store , is stranded at an exclusive isolated spa on her latest entertaining case. An assignment to take the two-week makeover course at Deepdene and check it out as a possible documentary subject fails to thrill the practical Birdie, who arrives at the start of the rainy season. The staff, including glamorous owner Margot Bell and co-owner hairdresser Alistair Swanson, coddles Birdie and four other women as the unceasing rain threatens to flood the surrounding creek and turn the spa into an island. Soon spa secretary William Dean announces that Laurel Moon, who murdered his fiancee and five other women, has been released from the psychiatric institution to which she was committed. When Margot is killed in the same manner as Moon's victims, Birdie suspects the killer may be among the guests. She calls her friend, Det. Sgt. Toby, who arrives with Det. Constable Milson before the spa is shut off, but both men are quickly drugged out of commission, leaving Birdie, aided by another guest, to solve a series of murders with a nice bit of thinking. Happily the mildly eccentric, thoroughly modern Birdie isn't made over a bit. (Apr.)
This could almost be called "Nancy Drew Meets Elizabeth Arden," but what at first appears to be a rather silly, soap-opera-type plot eventually turns into a real edge-of-your-seat thriller. Verity Birdwood (aka Birdy), a British television reporter, visits a spa to do a story on beauty make-overs and the women who get them. Little does she know that not only will she be a beauty make-over success story, she'll also get involved with some very strange characters in some very grisly circumstances. Rowe has been called the "Australian Agatha Christie," and with good reason. Like Christie, she offers a cast of suspicious characters, a tenacious and appealing heroine, lots of subtle and not-so-subtle clues, and enough red herrings to confuse even the most determined puzzle solvers. But it's the addition of some real suspense--and a little blood--that lifts this tale beyond pure formula. A good choice for traditionalists.