Author: Maxine Nunes
Series: A Nikki Easton Mystery (Book 1)
Publisher: Five Star (October 23, 2013)
Available on Amazon (Paperback, Kindle and Hard Cover)
Synopsis: Feisty one-liner actress Nikki Easton finds herself embroiled in a quest to either find out who murdered her best friend—the "dazzling" aspiring actress Darla—or verify that the unrecognizable corpse buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is really someone else. Along the way, Nikki finds herself smitten with a sexy cop, looks for clues at a Playboy-type mansion, and tangles with unsavory Underworld characters whose antics and shocking connections are nearly indistinguishable from the rest of Hollywood's movers who slither through this book. Sex, drugs and lost souls who are torn between the need to be "somebody" and the desire to flee L.A. keep this mystery ticking like the proverbial time bomb.
Maxine Nunes' Dazzled is a tale told with such precision for atmospheric details, lifestyle annoyances and pitch perfect dialogue, it should come with a cautionary disclaimer for Los Angelenos:
"Warning: May induce the sensation that you are still inside the plot every time you look up from the book."
True to its genre, the story takes readers where others have gone before, but Nunes puts a fresh spin on the familiar elements through inspired turns of phrases ("...a man who evidently thought a strip of chest hair would do for a necktie") and quirky 21st Century updates (gifted with a bouquet, the only "vase" Nikki can find is an empty Slurpee cup).
Nunes also has a gift for depicting layered characters. To this end, she makes excellent use of an acting class that demands "honest emotions" of its students. In the hands of a lesser writer, these scenes could come off as satire or excessively dramatic; but here they skillfully alternate between humor and pathos while giving readers the necessary insights.
The stronger the personality the more it hid.—Dazzled
Dazzled lovingly and painstakingly explores the paradoxical contradictions of Los Angeles and its hapless inhabitants. The smell of night jasmine juxtaposes with the stench of the morgue...an actress with a "show biz" sensuality hides her true self in plain sight...and all the sleights of hand resonate in the book's first line:
At its core, the mystery explores love in its various forms and disguises. Twists, turns and double-crosses abound. Enough to keep the pages turning, but not so complicated or overloaded with characters that it ever feels unwieldy.
All in all, a fun read—unless you are living in L.A., in which case you might have fun while also thinking about leaving town; or if you are the optimistic type, you might find yourself looking forward to a sequel!