When Tobi Tobias opened her own advertising agency, Carter McDade was there for her every step of the way. A brilliant hairdresser, Carter has just landed his dream project: doing hair and makeup for a theatrical production of Rapunzel. But the dream turns into a nightmare when he runs into Fiona Renoir, a cruel, talentless starlet who won’t let Carter touch a hair on her head.
To get Fiona out of Carter’s hair, Tobi hires the difficult actress for a bit part in her latest commercial. But true to character, Fiona is a terror on set, and Tobi is starting to think she’s made the biggest mistake of her life. But things get even worse when Fiona drops dead in the hairdresser’s chair, and the only suspect is the man left holding the tainted hair dye, Carter McDade. And unless Tobi can prove his innocence, he’ll never do hair in this town again.
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Hell had officially frozen over. And, oddly enough, there was no swell of background music, no thunderous blast like I'd always imagined.
There was simply crunching.
Loud, deliberate crunching.
In fact, it was the cruncher and the crunchee that had turned the fiery flames of the dreaded underworld into the clichéd icicles referenced at the end of virtually every nasty breakup.
My best friend, Carter McDade, was standing less than five feet from my sofa eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
That's right, Carter McDade — the same guy who lectured me daily on the gaps (okay, seismic gullies) in my eating habits. The same guy who could draw a textbook food pyramid in mere seconds. The same guy who'd willingly and happily choose broccoli in a head-to-head with a Caramello bar.
Which is why his puff-crunching pointed to one indisputable conclusion: Carter was stressed. Big-time.
A rarity in and of itself, Cocoa Puffs or no Cocoa Puffs.
My upstairs neighbor was the most positive human being I'd ever met. One of those happy-go-lucky, always-has-a-smile types. You know, the kind of person everyone needs in their life, but few are fortunate enough to have.
I was one of the fortunate.
I was also dumbfounded. Utterly and completely dumbfounded by what to say and how to say it. So I took the not-so-subtle approach.
"What's wrong, Carter?"
Now I'll admit, I have a leg up when it comes to deciphering puff-talk (it is, after all, my second language), but I was feeling pretty proud that I could decode it from even the most novice of crunchers.
"Nothing? Nothing?! Do you realize what you're eating right now?"
Carter looked at the bowl in his left hand and then the spoon moving toward his mouth with his right. "Uh-huh."
"They're Cocoa Puffs, Carter! Co. Coa. Puffs. As in chocolate — or as you call it, sugar central. You know, void of roughage. In fact, if I do recall correctly, you refer to them as the downfall of mankind. The reason for society's ills."
I guess I thought if I really hammered home the point, it might sink in. Then again, I was living proof that tactic failed. Just ask my mother.
Besides, it was hard to hammer home drawbacks when I didn't believe a word of what I was saying. Why? Because I, Tobi Tobias, am a chocoholic. And proud of it, I might add.
So I did what any good chocoholic would do. I sauntered into the kitchen, grabbed my Bugs Bunny melamine bowl and matching spoon, filled it to the brim with the last of the crunchy brown puffs (don't worry, I've got four more boxes in the cabinet over the stove), and headed back into the living room. I mean, let's face it, the expression "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" was coined for a reason, right?
Not that my commiserating helped. In fact, when I returned, Carter showed no signs of having noticed my departure or subsequent return. His facial expression was still void of its trademark smile, and his eyes held a vacant look. Somehow, though, I managed to coax him onto the sofa.
"C'mon, Carter, spill it. It's Fiona again, isn't it?"
Call it a lucky (or, really my only) guess, but it was worth a shot. And judging by the look of complete mortification on his face as my words (and thus, his choice of food) registered in his subconscious, I'd hit the jackpot.
"Oh, good God, please tell me I'm not eating what I think I'm eating." Carter squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them slowly, cautiously. A tortured gasp escaped his mouth, along with a partially chewed puff.
"It's okay, Carter, really. It's been a long time coming. And it's not a good idea to keep depriving yourself of the finer things in life." I reached out and touched his shoulder, a teasing smile tugging my lips. "Thanks for letting me be a part of your spiritual awakening."
If looks could kill ...
He rolled his eyes upward and then frantically wiped his tongue with the sleeve of his cable-knit sweater. "Ugh, how on earth can you eat that stuff?"
"Same way you just did, my friend. One yummy spoonful at a time." I winked and popped some puffs into my mouth. I knew I was being ornery, but I couldn't help myself. Let's face it, I'd endured more pontificating about my eating habits from this man than I could possibly recall. So this was, in a way, sweet justice. Payback. Comeuppance at its finest ...
"My mind was compromised." Carter released a long, slow sigh and wiped his tongue one more time. "I swear, Sunshine, that woman will be the death of me yet. Mark my words."
I took the bowl from his shaking hand and set it on the end table to my right. It never ceased to amaze me how fast the sugar rush hit the chocolate virgins. Especially the stressed ones.
"What'd Princess Fiona do this time?"
"In the interest of time, it might be better if I tell you what she didn't do." Carter pushed off the couch and wandered over to the window. Drawing back the curtain, he peered outside. "Have you ever noticed the way Ms. Rapple kinda looks like Gertrude? Around the eyes and snout — I mean, nose?"
That did it. I laughed. And snorted. Loudly.
"I'm serious, Tobi. The eyes droop in almost the exact same spot, and the nose, well, it's a perfect match. Right down to the persistent wetness."
Thinking about my next-door neighbor, Ms. Rapple, was enough to make my stomach turn. The old biddy was something of a thorn in my side and had been since the day I moved into my apartment at 46 McPherson Road. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even turned the key in the front lock before she'd descended on me with her over-the-top questions, mean-spirited honesty, hideously bad breath, and her yippity-yappity dog, Gertrude. Fortunately, having Carter in the apartment above me, and Mary Fran and Sam Wazoli living above Ms. Rapple, made the situation more bearable.
Still ... was I wrong for hoping she'd win the lottery and move out into the countryside? Or, even better, to another continent entirely?
Carter, I knew, felt the same way about our elderly neighbor, though he tried his best to smooth over her abrasiveness with his normally sunny disposition. When that didn't work, he resorted to other things. Like ducking to the side of windows in true surveillance mode.
"You better come away from there, Carter. If she catches you looking, she'll be knocking on my door looking for some conversation." The thought made me cringe.
"The only conversation she's interested in these days is one that involves talk of your grandfather."
I shivered. "Don't remind me. She stops me every single day to ask when he's coming to visit. It gives me the heebies."
My Grandpa Stu was my rock, my grounding force. We'd been nearly inseparable since the day I was born — he teaching me how to navigate through life, me offering sticky kisses and half-eaten lollipops in return. The closeness we'd shared during my formative years hadn't changed as I grew into adulthood. If anything, it had strengthened as I went from thinking my Grandpa Stu was the smartest man in the world to knowing it.
But we no longer had uninterrupted days and a common front porch at our disposal. Instead, we had weekly phone conversations and a handful of visits each year — times I cherished as much as any from my youth.
Except maybe the last visit.
Don't get me wrong, having my Grandpa Stu in my apartment for a week had been wonderful. He'd helped me through a trying time that included a dead body and my professional reputation (don't ask). Unfortunately, that same visit had also marked the beginning of a budding affection between my once-smart grandfather and my perpetual thorn. He called her "Martha," his voice softening whenever he said it aloud.
Needless to say, I've had my share of nightmares since that visit. The worst, though, was the one in which my grandfather was sporting a hand-knit sweater identical to one worn by both Ms. Rapple and her dog.
I shook my head against the unsettling image and forced my thoughts back to the subject Carter was working valiantly to ignore.
"C'mon, Carter. What's the deal with Fiona?"
He let the curtain slip through his fingers, his body stiffening in response. "Okay, okay."
I scooted over on the sofa to make room as he dropped his wiry body down with a thud. "I told you we just started casting for Rapunzel, right?"
Carter stretched his feet out and propped them on my new-to-me coffee table. "I like this table by the way. Nice lines."
"Impressive topic shift, but it's not gonna fly." I bent my legs at the knee and pulled them under me, hugging a throw pillow to my chest. "So ... Ra-punzel?"
He stuck his tongue out at me and rolled his eyes. "Okay. So, of course, the Frankster wants the lead to go to his amazingly talented niece."
Did I sense a defrosting in Carter's opinion of his one-and-only nemesis?
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you just call Fiona amazingly talented?" I asked for clarification purposes.
"The boss's words, not mine. I'd choose something more, oh, I don't know — fitting. Like world-class troublemaker, evil's lone spawn, or irritant extraordinaire."
So much for defrosting.
"I take it you'd rather she didn't get the part?"
"This is Rapunzel, Sunshine. Fiona's hair barely touches her collar. And she won't even consider hair extensions." He stopped, inhaled sharply, and then threw his head back against the couch. "She wants to wear a wig."
The reason for Carter's unexpected tumble off the broccoli wagon was suddenly crystal clear. If anything, I was stunned it had stopped at Cocoa Puffs. This little development could have landed him at the checkout counter of Death by Chocolate on North Euclid.
"A wig? Does she not realize what you do?"
"Oh, she realizes it. She just gets her jollies out of pushing my buttons. Has since the day her precious uncle — aka my boss, aka the Frankster — introduced us. Probably because my greeting lacked a bow and the obligatory peck on her hand."
It's true. Carter is, hands down, the nicest, sweetest, most genuine guy I'd ever met. But he doesn't kiss up to anyone. Ever. He speaks with his heart twenty-four/seven and doesn't give a hoot who you are or what you do for a living.
"Are you going to let her use a wig? I mean, isn't the whole hair thing why you're there in the first place?"
He pulled his legs off the table and sat ramrod straight. "Exactly! And I was salivating at the idea of doing this show. Not just because there's a chance it could be our last show ever at the theater, but because it's Rapunzel, Sunshine! Think about it — the extensions, mixing up just the right shade of golden blond, creating soft curls that are the envy of all ... Oh my God, it was going to be so awesome."
It was hard not to notice the way his wistful tone morphed into anger as he continued, his voice growing deeper and more wooden with each subsequent word. "But now, I'm not sure I'll even make it past Monday morning, thanks to Princess Fiona."
I'd never seen Carter quite like this before. Sure, he was theatrical; it was part of his shtick. But there's a difference between being theatrical and being a drama queen, and Carter was suddenly blurring the line.
"C'mon, Carter. Just because she doesn't want you to do her hair doesn't mean you're going to lose your job. You know that." I tugged at a loose thread on my throw pillow and waited for him to come to his senses.
"You might've been right, Sunshine, if I hadn't let her bait me into a fight. With her uncle standing less than ten feet behind me."
"You didn't know he was there?" I asked, though why I'm not quite sure. The answer was obvious, wasn't it? Carter had, after all, resorted to chocolate.
"Nope. Not a clue. But Fiona did, I'm positive of that." Carter pushed off the sofa and wandered around my living room, stopping from time to time to look at a few framed photographs he'd seen a million times over the past two years.
"But you just disagreed with her on the hair stuff, right?"
Carter snickered. "Disagreed? Oh no. Let's just say I kinda unleashed the past six months of Fiona-inspired frustration. And once I started, I couldn't stop."
I gulped. "How bad did it get?"
"Depends on what you call bad." Carter stopped at my draft table and picked up a sheet of paper with colorful block letters across the top and rough sketches in a series of hand-drawn boxes along the bottom.
"Try me." I tossed the throw pillow onto Carter's empty spot and stood. I'd spent the better part of the day working on my campaign ideas for Pizza Adventure but wasn't necessarily ready to share them with anyone yet. Even Carter, my biggest fan of all.
"Well, let's see — I told her how sick I was of her temper tantrums during rehearsals, her constant screaming at the lighting guys, her Gestapo-like tactics when it comes to making sure no one even so much as thinks about eating something with peanuts anywhere in the building lest she break out in hives or whatever the hell happens to her, and, of course, her blatant hogging of the press anytime the theater actually gets show coverage these days."
My mouth dropped open.
"Wait." He held up his hand, crossing guard style. "Trust me, Sunshine. It gets better."
"There's more?" I asked.
Carter nodded. "I called her a spoiled brat with no chance in hell of ever making it as an actress."
Okay, so maybe the notion of a new job wasn't so drama-queenish after all.
What to say ... what to say ...
"Bad call, huh?" Carter cocked his head to the left and studied the paper that held hours of my brainstorming and subsequent doodling. "Say, this is cool. That's a kid dressed like Batman in that second box, isn't it?"
"Uh, yeah." I reached for the paper, but Carter pulled it away and read the words in the box aloud. "Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, Pizza Cave!"
I looked around his shoulder and followed along as he came to the next box. "And now he's having his party in the cave with his buddies, right?" Carter asked, pointing.
I nodded. "So, what do you think?"
"I think it's awesome. They do parties for thirty-four-year-olds too?"
"Actually yeah. Though you might prefer their beach locale."
"Hey, I like pizza as much as the next guy, but I'm not driving to the coast to get some." Carter turned and leaned against my draft table, crossing his legs at the ankles.
"You don't have to drive to the coast." I nudged him to the side and pulled a photograph from the bulging envelope to the left of my shading pencils. I handed it to Carter, pointing at the large, warehouse-like space that would soon be known throughout the metropolitan St. Louis area as Pizza Adventure — You pick the place, we'll bring the pizza. A catchy little slogan if I must say so myself. "Dom and Gina Paletti have big plans for that space."
"This is the pizza place?" Carter crinkled his nose upward and nudged his chin in the direction of the picture. "Looks kind of industrial or something."
"It did. But look what they're doing with it." I reached for the envelope and extracted a mixture of hand-drawn sketches and actual rudimentary photographs I'd gotten with my point-and-shoot. "Here's the cave. And see? Those are the tables you eat at inside the cave."
Carter grabbed the picture from my hand and whistled under his breath. "This is amazing. Wow, wow, wow."
"Wait. It gets better." I handed him the next picture, one that depicted a Drive-in Movie room complete with tables inside car-like shells and a full-sized movie screen in front. "If you sit in this room, you can watch old cartoons like Bugs and Road Runner while you eat your pizza."
"Did you say Road Runner?"
I laughed and passed him the next photograph. "Now let's suppose you weren't a cartoon kind of guy. You could opt, instead, to eat on an island with thatched-roof tables, tropical birds, and bongo drums playing in the background."
He whistled again. "How many of these rooms are they going to have?"
"The plan is to have eight to start with. If it takes off as we think it will, they have room to add another four or five."
"Think they'll have a hairdresser room?" Carter handed me back the small stack of photographs and pushed away from the draft table. "I may be looking for employment sooner rather than later."
I hated seeing him so defeated, so unhappy. It was like the world had slipped off its axis and it was up to me to set things right. How to do that was anyone's guess, but I knew I had to try.
Excerpted from "30 Second Death"
Copyright © 2017 Laura Bradford.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love it. A great quirky heroine well written and wonderful supporting characters.
30 Second Death by Laura Bradford is the second book in A Tobi Tobias Mystery series. Tobi’s friend Carter McDade needs a little help. He is a hairdresser for the Central West End Theater and has been having a hard time with the temperamental and troublesome Fiona Renoir. Carter ended up having an extremely vocal argument with her at the theater and is afraid of losing his job (which he loves). Frank Martindale, the theater’s owner, will not go against Fiona, because she is his niece (which is why she has a job along with the fact that no one else would put up with her antics and diva attitude). Tobi decides to help Carter by giving Fiona a role in the Salonquility commercial. Tobi immediately regrets her act of kindness when Fiona causes drama on the set (upsetting the crew). They get through the first two segments of the commercial and take a short break before they start the hair dying portion of the commercial. Tobi is getting ready to return to the set when she hears Carter scream. She rushes in and finds him staring at Fiona on the floor—dead! Thanks to the very public argument Carter had with Fiona, he is suspect number one. Grandpa Stu returns to town to help Tobi with the investigation and spend a little quality time with Martha Rapple (which makes Tobi cringe). Tobi, with Grandpa Stu’s assistance, needs to whittle down the long suspect list (no one liked Fiona) and find the killer. Will she be able to clear Carter’s name before the cops slap him behind bars? 30 Second Death is an easy to read book. There are some cute moments in the story and the details the author allowed me to envision it in my head (an example is Rudder described in pj’s, nightcap and slippers). I wish, though, that the author had devoted more time and effort into the mystery. It was obvious who would be murdered and how (the nasty person is always bumped off). I identified the killer early in the novel (very limited suspect pool). I am rating 30 Second Death 3 out of 5 stars. Tobi has the maturity of a teenager girl at times (with regard to her personal life). Grandpa Stu’s relationship with Martha Rapple makes her want to throw up. This fact is frequently mentioned. Then the parrot, Rudder makes fun of her laugh (snort, snort). She gets annoyed with the bird (over and over). I admit that I got annoyed with it being mentioned every single time she called the pet store or visited it (repetition of details seems to be a common theme). The whodunit took a backseat in 30 Second Death. More time was devoted to Tobi’s relationship with Andy (and the current problem they are experiencing), Mary Fran’s noise problem at the pet store, Tobi’s need to have sweets and chocolate on hand, and Mary Fran’s high school reunion (and getting the chance to reconnect with the guy she liked in high school). I just felt 30 Second Death was lacking (I wanted more, but that is me). Readers who prefer a light, humorous “cozy” mystery will enjoy 30 Second Death.
a well rounded mystery 30 SECOND DEATH by Laura Bradford The Second Tobi Tobias Mystery Business is booming for Tobi Tobias, unfortunately, her personal life isn't faring so well. Andy's ex has come back into his life and in trying to help her good friend, she may just have set Carter up for a murder charge! A diva at Carter's theatre company has made the mellow Carter lose his cool, so in order to save his job, Tobi rescinds the acting offer she gave the Art Director and gives the job to the Diva. A nightmare on the set, Fiona angers everyone, but it's only after Carter works on her hair that she drops dead. Now Carter's the prime suspect, but plenty of people had motive. Will Tobi be able to prove Carter's innocence when even Mary Fran doubts him? Will she work out her relationship with Andy? And just what is Rudder getting up to at night that the police are called for a noise disturbance? Tobi's junk food diet makes my eating habits look positively healthy and her snorting, along with her reaction to it, gets on my nerves. Despite the fact that I find Tobi annoying at times, her deep rooted kindness makes me appreciate her as a person and as a character. And although poor decisions abound, if better choices were made there'd be no mystery. I really enjoyed the mystery in 30 SECOND DEATH. Laura Bradford is quite adept at misdirecting readers, leading us toward what seem like the logical conclusion. When the mystery is solved we're reminded of all those well placed clues we may have glossed over which now make us say, "Well, of course. It all makes sense now!" The romantic anticipations and troubles of both Tobi and Mary Fran add to the angst of the story, heightening the drama.The mood is lightened, however, with plenty of humor, from Tobi's new clients, Dom and Gina Paletti, but especially from Rudder, wise words from teenager, Sam, and those quirky traits of Tobi. 30 SECOND DEATH is a well rounded mystery that provides a pleasurable mixture of laughter and drama while highlighting the importance of love and friendship. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
30 SECOND DEATH was 8 hours of unbelievable reading! Oh, I do love this series. As I mentioned in my review of book one, DEATH IN ADVERTISING I was blown away with every aspect of it. In starting 30 SECOND DEATH, I of course was hoping for more of the same, and author Laura Bradford delivered! Tobi Tobias is a fresh and fun protagonist. I love her quirky sense of humor, and that she snorts when she laughs like I do! She’s feel very real to me, meaning, she could be someone I know. When I read some leads in other series, I feel like I could never be them. But Tobi, she makes me feel like I can do anything. 30 SECOND DEATH was a fast paced, exciting story that touched on every emotion in me at one point or the other. When I wasn’t laughing at the antics of some of the characters, or deep into other story points of this great book, I was holding my breath over the whodunit portion of the tale. Ms. Bradford really upped the mystery content in this installment of the Tobi Tobias Mysteries, and after the last book, I wouldn’t have thought that possible!
I loved this book as I do all of Ms. Bradford's. I would actually give this a 4 1/2 star. When a diva that has problems with Tobi's good friend Carter, Tobi tries to help, but when she ends up dead and eyes turn to Carter, there are even bigger problems. Tobi is torn in this book between Carter being under suspicion, Grandpa Stu falling for Mrs. Rapple, her boyfriend's ex fiancé in town and Mary Fran having problems at the pet store, she is definitely pulled in many directions. I love the characters in this series. Tobi is a strong woman, but she does have insecurities and is addicted to junk food, I love that because she comes across as very real developed character. Grandpa Stu is lovable as always and I was thrilled to see him back in this book, I think his burgeoning romance with Mrs. Rapple is cute and can't wait to see what happens next. I love Mary Fran's son, a teenager who knows what he wants to do in life, has a good head on his shoulders but still has the teen excitement of seeing a studio. The mystery was good and kept me guessing until close to the end. I did do quite a bit of laughing, Rudder the bird being a big source of humor, but the one client actually had me laughing out loud, I love when a book can do that. I will definitely be continuing on with this series and eagerly await the next.
Framed for Murder Thanks to a Favor No good deed goes unpunished. It might be a cliché, but it certainly holds true for Tobi Tobias in 30 Second Death. It all starts when Tobi’s friend Carter McDade finally snaps at Fiona Renoir, an actress at the theater where he works as a hairdresser. Fiona is demanding and demeaning, and that’s on her good days. But since Fiona’s uncle owns the theater, Carter is afraid he will lose his job, a job that he absolutely loves, as a result of his tantrum against the star. That’s when Tobi gets the brilliant idea of casting Fiona in a commercial she is going to shoot for one of the clients of her advertising firm. The commercial is for a spa, and Tobi is even able to get Carter a part in the commercial. Things turn sour, however, when Fiona dies on set while in Carter’s chair getting her hair dyed. Naturally, everyone assumes Carter did it, but Tobi knows her friend would never kill anyone. Can she figure out who else had motive to kill Fiona? I really loved the first book in this series, so I was looking forward to the sequel. Unfortunately, I found the plot a little bit slow, choked out at times by a couple of sub-plots. It does pick up in the second half, however, and the ending is perfectly logical. One of the sub-plots didn’t quite work either, but it’s a sub-plot, so that’s okay. However, I fell in love with the cast of characters in the first book, and that hasn’t changed at all. Tobi is surrounded by a group of friends who are there for her. In fact, they feel more like her family than friends. In this book, she gets to return the favor of being there for her friends as she sets out to help a couple of them. These relationships truly are wonderful. Plus we get some fun and laughs. This is especially true for the scenes involving Rudder, a parrot at the pet store owned by Tobi’s friend Mary Fran. These scenes are guaranteed to make me smile if not laugh. There are plenty of other fun moments along the way as well. If you haven’t yet met Tobi, you really should fix that today. While 30 Second Death isn’t quite the best of Laura Bradford’s books, it certainly still entertains. With the way this book ended, I’ll certainly be back to find out what happens next. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
30 Second Death was even better than Death in Advertising! Laura Bradford is an outstanding author who creates multifaceted characters with depth and wonderful hearts. This time that heart has put Tobi in a terrible position. Tobi's best friend is about to lose his job after blasting his boss's niece while said boss was standing behind him. To try to get the, hum, uh, the little minx, out of his hair, Tobi hires the mediocre actress with a diva attitude to act in a commercial for her newest client. The first pain comes from having to tell another woman, one that she likes, that she is out of the commercial to make room for Fiona. The next pain is from having to putt up with the diva during the preparation and shooting of the commercial, and the final pain is dealing with fallout from the death of the diva on her set, right at Carter's feet and guess who becomes the prime suspect...of course, Carter McDade, the best friend she was trying to help. If that isn't tough enough for you, her still-kind-of-new-but-really-important boyfriend takes her out for a lovely dinner only to have his ex-fiancé show up, the one who left him. It was great to have another visit from her awesome grandfather and to spend time with Sam and Mary Fran. These secondary characters contribute to making this series stand out as special. Since I loved the first book in the Tobi Tobias Mystery series, I was thrilled to get a chance to read an advanced readers' copy of 30 Second Death. Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for this opportunity. I always review books that I enjoy and I loved 30 Second Death and look forward to the next book in the series.
30-Second Death is the second book in the A Tobi Tobias Mystery series. Another enjoyable visit to the Tobi Tobias Ad Agency. Tobi comes home one evening to find her best friend, Carter McDade eating Cocoa Puffs right out of the box in her apartment. One might ask: really, yes. He is distraught, to say the least. McDade is a hairdresser at a local, community type, theater and the owner’s niece, Fiona Renoir, prima donna personified, is making life difficult for McDade and everyone in the theater. With McDade feeling that his days are numbered at the theater, Tobi has offered to hire Fiona for a commercial for a local spa that is about to go into production. As everyone returns from a break, the scene with Fiona and McDade starts with Fiona get a dye lathered into her hair and soon falls out of the chair, dead. So instead of washing her hands of the whole thing, she starts to look into who wanted Fiona out of the picture the most and to also clear McDade’s name. At the same time, Tobi is working on a new ad campaign for Dom and Gina Paletti who are renovating a warehouse-like space which Tobi has suggested they call Pizza Adventure, where each room will have a different adventure setting. Gina seems to love the idea, but Dom is going to need a little convincing. Grandpa Stu, Ms. Rapple, Mary Fran and her son Sam, and Joanna are all back again to help Tobi stay on the straight and narrow. Oh, can’t forget Rudder and his mimicking of Tobi’s snort. I will be watching for the next book in this delightful series.
Wow! I really enjoyed this second novel in Laura Bradford’s A Tobi Tobias Mystery series! The author has a winning combination of witty dialog between very likable characters, a mind-boggling murder mystery, and romance on the rocks. Oh, and Rudder. Without Rudder, Tobi and Mary Fran would be … truly rudderless in a world with less snorts. Tobi loves chocolate, adores her family, friends and animals. Her ad agency is successful and she is “wowing” two new clients. Her best friend is Carter; the job he loves is on the line. JoAnna is Tobi’s outstanding, highly efficient, motherly secretary. Mary Fran, Tobi’s friend, owns a unique pet shop threatened by a cranky new neighbor. Her 15-year-old son Sam is a brilliant and talented photographer who understands human nature better than most adults. Rudder, the African Grey Parrot who torments Tobi with imitations of her snorting laugh, is star of the pet shop. Tobi’s motley group is blessed with Grandpa Stu, in her corner since she was born. He seems to be sweet on – horrors! – her mean-spirited neighbor, Ms. Rapple. What more can a girl need? Andy…the exceptional boyfriend who is talking again with his returning ex-girlfriend who once preferred a career to marriage. Tobi is preparing for a commercial shoot for an upscale spa. Rachel, the art director from the studio who films her TV commercials, is – or was – the female “lead” in the commercial. Rachel, yearning for an acting career, was looking forward to it. Tobi had to change her mind to help Carter, a leading hair sculptor. He had a huge fight with Fiona, actress at the local theater where he works and her Uncle Frank runs. Frank heard the fight. In hopes of Carter keeping his job, Tobi asks Fiona to be in the commercial instead. Rachel says she understands but her behavior denies it. Her right-hand person, Sara, is gunning for Rachel’s job. Everyone is tired of Fiona the Diva who had loudly proclaimed huge peanut allergy. The final scene is being filmed; Carter is coloring Fiona’s hair to show a salon service. She falls out of the salon chair, dead, at Carter’s feet the cause of death being peanut oil in the hair coloring that he had mixed. Each character is delightfully complex, designed with care and demonstrated through their actions and dialog and, for Tobi, her internal dialog. Tobi is the embodiment of many young women on the road to success. She has ongoing concerns about her company and appearance, whose insecurities are evident only to JoAnna and a new client, Gina. Of all the characters, I like Tobi and Mary Fran best, and envy her the kind of friends who love her. Except for what he put Tobi through, I would like to pop Andy on the nose! I like that the author introduces almost all the characters in the beginning of the novel so one can then focus on the crime. The plot is tightly woven with twists that this reader didn’t anticipate. Carter, of course is to blame. I tenaciously suspected a different, conniving bad guy/ gal. I love the way young Sam steals hearts with wisdom beyond his years. I am captivated by Pizza Adventures “experience”! The real killer is a complete surprise, someone I hadn’t even considered. Every situation is resolved, leaving no loose ends. I highly recommend 30 Second Death; it is definitely a worthy sequel to Death in Advertising, and not to be missed! From a grateful heart: I received this eBook from the publisher and NetGalley, and this is my honest review.
30 Second Death by Laura Bradford is the second book in her Tobi Tobias series. This book picked up seamlessly from the first book. I like Tobi because she is a smart and often funny and a chocoholic which could make her and me friends. She also is devoted to her friends and family. The secondary characters, Mary Fran, Sam, Carter and Grandpa Stu are also back which added several dimensions to the story. Ms. Bradford's descriptive writing and well crafted characters always make me feel that I am right there with them. Tobi is busy with two new clients and dealing with another romantic disappointment. She is also trying to support Mary Fran as she is facing a problem with her new neighbor at her pet store. Then the murder happens and her bff, Carter, is the number one suspect. We all know that Tobi is not going to let that stand. Plenty of suspects and twists kept me turning the pages as I was completely at a loss as to who committed the murder. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Lyrical Press/Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.