Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Model Undercover, Book 2 - New York: Stolen with Style

The current ghostwriters for the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series should take a cue from Carina Axelsson, because this woman knows how to write a well-developed, character-driven, good ol' fashioned mystery for young adults.

Model Undercover is a mystery series about detective-wannabe Axelle (rhymes with "excel") Anderson who inadvertently gets suckered into a modeling career in order to pursue her real passion - solving mysteries.  In the first book, London: A Crime of Fashion, Axelle not only walks her first runway, but she solves her first mystery when she has to find a missing fashion designer.  When she successfully solves the case, she is suddenly thrust into the limelight, not only as a detective, but also as the hottest new model to walk the carpet.

Now, in this second book of the series, Axelsson, who is a former model herself, brings her protagonist to America and the Big Apple to find out what happened to the Black Amelia, the world's most famous black diamond.  The priceless jewel was stolen from Cazzie Kinlan, the editor-in-chief for Chic magazine during a closed-set photo shoot, and Axelle only has a week within which to find the stolen diamond.  When Cazzie begins getting cryptic blackmail texts with riddles to solve, the clock begins ticking.  With only a handful of suspects, including four models, a photographer, and a digitech (as well as Cazzie herself), Axelle has to once again go undercover as a model to infiltrate the industry and integrate herself into the lives of the people she suspects.

Axelsson brings back Axelle's model friend Ellie, who happens to be in New York for the fashion week events, as well as Axelle's love interest, Sebastian, who Axelle believes is actually spying on her for her mother, to makes sure she really is modeling and not solving another mystery.  And with over 300 pages of story, Axelsson has plenty of space to develop an intricate plot complete with great red herrings (although a couple of them are pretty obvious) and lots of fashionista flourish.  The reader comes to know all of the characters quite well, and the author manages to keep the identity of the thief pretty well hidden until the final climax - and once revealed, the reader will realize the clues were there, just not so in-your-face as to make it obvious.  Which, ultimately, makes for a very satisfying read.

This series is yet another British series being reprinted here in America.  No curse words, no violence - just good ol' mystery-enjoying fun.  And not one, not even two, but three references to Nancy Drew (although, granted, each instance is Axelle mocking Ellie by saying, "Thanks, Nancy Drew" or "Very funny, Nancy Drew").  Clearly, the iconic teenage sleuth is a reference that no mystery can do without.

While I am by no means a fan of fashion (anyone can tell you I dress comfortably and with what I like, never worrying about whether something is the latest fashion or fad), I thoroughly enjoy this series and would recommend it highly to anyone that reads and enjoys young adult mysteries.

10 tear sheets out of 10 for showing the world what a young adult mystery should be!

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