Thursday, February 2, 2017

Model Undercover, Book 3 - London, Deadly by Design

While directing an upcoming play has eaten into my free time, it hasn't stopped me from reading completely - particularly when I have the third book in the superbly written series Model Undercover series.  This is definitely one of my favorite series.  Author Carina Axelsson has created a smart, lovable detective in Axelle, the wanna-be detective who is thrust into the world of modeling, where she manages to find mysteries galore to solve!

After Paris and New York, Axelsson brings her young detective back home to London in Deadly by Design.  And while her previous mysteries involved a kidnapping and stolen property, Axelle finds herself looking into a decades old murder when a friend of one of her model friends comes to her asking for help.  It seems this woman's brother was attacked and is now in a coma, and Axelle's friend, Ellie, referred the woman to her for help.  Having had no mystery to solve since her adventure in New York City, Axelle jumps at the opportunity.

The only clue she has to work with is a thumbdrive with the young man's last photo shoot - numerous "day in the life" shots of famed fashion designer Johnny Vane, as well as one very out of place photo of a picture with two young boys who appear to be twins.  Axelle knows the clue must be somewhere in that extra photo, but she doesn't know what.  With the help of her very own "Watson," the always faithful boyfriend, Sebastian, Axelle sets out to discover just what that photograph has to do with the attack on the young man, and how Johnny Vane and the tragic death of his mother and brother fit into it.

Weighing in at 349 pages, there is never a dull moment in this book.  Axelsson maintains a steady pace with her storytelling, providing a great build-up to the huge reveal at the end.  Yes, any true fan of mystery series books will figure out at least part of the solution to this mystery pretty early on, but seeing how Axelle and Sebastian get there is half the fun.  Plus, Axelsson provides a pretty good twist with the actual identity of the culprit, and the big reveal at the end when Axelle pulls all of her suspects into the same room before confronting them is sure to bring a smile to your face - it did mine!

And, of course, no good mystery series book about a young girl detective would be complete without a reference or two to Nancy Drew, the original girl sleuth:

"...all I wanted to do was solve mysteries--and I'd always felt that way.  Well, ever since my granny started spoon-feeding me detective stories:  Nancy Drew before I could read..." (p. 2)

"That, Nancy Drew, is on a need-to-know basis." (p. 31)

"All right, Nancy Drew, then what else do I have on my mind?"  (p. 342)

If only the Nancy Drew books of today were written as well as the Model Undercover books, then Simon & Schuster might actually have a best-selling series once again.  For now, though, I have the MU books to satisfy my well-written girl sleuth mystery series - and thankfully, there is a fourth book on its way (set in Milan, as the ending of this book hints).  It is already published overseas, so I can only hope it will eventually makes it way for sale here in the States this year.

RATING:  10 mudlarking adventures out of 10 for mingling the fashion world with the mystery genre in such a way as to make them both interesting!

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