Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Dead Red Heart by RP Dahlke : Review

Lalla Bains, ex-model and Aero Ag pilot has plenty to keep her busy during another long hot summer in the San Joaquin Valley of California. But when a lovesick, homeless veteran litters her vintage red caddy with paper snowflakes, Lalla figures it's time for a showdown. Unfortunately, someone else has the same idea leaving Lalla with a dying man at her feet and only his strange last words, "The more there is, the less you see," as a clue to his killer.

No one wants her involved in the investigation; certainly not the creepy Modesto Police detective who slithers across her path every chance he gets, and not the local newspaper reporter whose annoying high-jinks cause her to want to set fire to the last three hairs on his head, nor Lalla's love interest, Sheriff Caleb Stone, who can only wish he could rein in Lalla's stubborn enthusiasm for sleuthing.

     Meanwhile, nothing stays the same as Lalla watches her tight-wad widowed father becomes a born-again lady's man, a disreputable crop-dusting competitor tries to push her out of business, and last but not least, she gets to worry that the sultry red-head in the police department may be vying for Sheriff Stone's affections.

     With nothing but the vaguest of clues to go on, Lalla determines that if nothing else, someone needs to be on the side of this misunderstood vet, and that person will be the exasperating, pushy, tenacious, Ms. Lalla Bains.

4 Stars

This was a funny, well-constructed little mystery that I enjoyed though sometimes I groaned at some of the stunts Lalla pulled, and got frustrated with the way she treated Caleb.  Her hot and cold treatment of him and his acceptance of her behavior just did not always sit well with me.  But, as the book progressed and more is divulged about her upbringing, it became easier to understand why she is burdened with some of the issues she has. 

I loved the voice of this story – engaging, breezy and not real subtle.  This is the 2nd book in the series, but I enjoyed it perfectly well even though I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read The Dead, Red Cadillac.  Ms. Dahlke knows how to breathe life and vibrancy into her characters. The Combination of a heroine who has a mile-wide stubborn streak with an interesting setting, unusual circumstances, and small-town dynamics makes a finished story concoction that is almost impossible to put down.

Reviewed for World Literacy Cafe  

See also my Feature Post Interview with Rebecca Dahlke


RP Dahlke said...

I really appreciate your review. And if you thought Lalla's treatment of Caleb is annoying, and her pranks are enough to drive anyone crazycrazy... then I've done my job! After all, who wants to read about a "nice" easy going, no-trouble-making protagonist?
I'm almost finished with A Dead Red Oleander... and this time her Texas kin-folk show up for Lalla's and Caleb's wedding and then the fun really begins!


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