HelenKay: Loving a new author can be a dangerous thing. You hear about a book, take a risk and buy a hardcover by an unknown, enjoy the debut, recommend the book to everyone you know and sit to wait not-so-patiently for the next in the series to arrive in the bookstores. When that second book arrives, you’re excited and a bit apprehensive. The worry? Book #2 may not live up to Book #1. The release of Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights carried with it that level of excitement and that twinge of danger. It is the follow-up and second in a series by new author Kyra Davis. Her first, Sex, Murder And A Double Latte, was one of those books. One hyped and highlighted in magazines and Big Newspaper reviews. Davis’ first book hit the shelves with a significant amount of fanfare and excitement. Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights enjoyed a quieter release but one still highly anticipated. The good news is that Davis’ second book does not disappoint.
Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights picks up a few weeks after Sex, Murder And A Double Latte left off. Mystery writer and amateur sleuth Sophie Katz offers her crush (and the man she tried to frame for a crime in Sex, Murder And A Double Latte) PI Anatoly Darinsky $12,000 to collect evidence for sister Leah that brother-in-law Bob Mitchell is cheating on Leah. Anatoly, still a little miffed over Sophie’s loose relationship with the truth and false allegations against him, reluctantly agrees.
Infidelity turns out to be the least of Leah’s problems. She has an 18 month-old son Jack who acts like the spawn of Satan on a no-nap day and a husband who is both unfaithful and, now, dead. Leah quickly moves to the front of the line of murder suspects. Sophie steps in as Anatoly’s pseudo-investigating partner and checks into Bob’s personal and business life to figure out who, other than Leah, had motive to kill Bob.
When Sophie’s on the case, the case turns into a big mess. She manages to do everything wrong. Backs into incomprehensible case theories. Stumbles over dead bodies. Hides evidence. And ticks off both the police and Anatoly. While Sophie’s eccentric friends play minor roles here, the plot stays centered on Sophie, Leah, Anatoly and the numerous murder suspects moving in and out of the story. The result is a tight focus on the chick lit mystery and an expanding and growing romance subplot.
Despite this being the second in a series, the book does not get mired in the what-went-before explanations. New readers will catch up on Anatoly and Sophie’s relationship without having to hear a rehash of the previous book. Anatoly continues to be a bit of a mystery, but Davis hints at a deeper backstory and draws out and fills in his character even though the plot circles around Sophie and her humorous antics. Whether or not Sophie’s character deepens and evolves is a different question. This second look into Sophie’s life does not offer much that’s new in the way of her life or personality. That is not to say Sophie remains static. The plot skips along at an almost breathless rate and drags Sophie and her relationships with her nephew, Leah and Anatoly behind. Those relationships do change, but some readers may feel as if they have not gained any new insight into Sophie.
One of Davis’ great strengths is in her ability to mix mystery with humor in a grown-up manner that does not depend on slapstick or trite circumstances. The comedy here comes in the form of witty banter, funny incidents and laugh-out-loud situations and dialog. Davis’ writing is strong and clever. The mystery component, while somewhat predictable, satisfies. Sophie continues to hit the high marks and entertain.
Final Thoughts: Strong and enjoyable second installment in the Sophie Katz series.
You can visit Kyra Davis here and buy this book here and here.