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An A-List for Death by Pamela Hart

Title: An A-List for Death

A yellow cover with a white border like a film roll. It has a red and black camera above the red and black title An A-List For Death. Pamela Hart is in white text above the camera.

Author: Pamela Hart

Genre: Crime, Mystery

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Published: 1st June 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 368

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Shooting for fame could end your career … and your life. A sparkling mystery from a stylish new voice in crime fiction, in a book that will delight fans of Richard Osman and Kerry Greenwood.

TV researcher Poppy McGowan has never sought the spotlight and is none too happy to be photographed with rock god Nathan Castle. When the photo pops up on celebrity gossip sites, it sparks a media feeding frenzy, forcing Poppy to go to ground, don a wig, and pull some nifty moves to escape a tailing car. On top of that, she cops abuse from Nathan’s outraged fans.

None of this would have happened if Poppy hadn’t found Nathan’s mother Daisy, one-time glamour girl and elderly best friend of her Aunty Mary, bleeding and unconscious in her bathroom. The police dismiss the case as an accident, but Poppy is sure there are questions to be answered. Who attacked Daisy, and why? Will she come out of her coma? What secrets are her gathering family hiding? What happens to Daisy’s money if she dies?

When a murder occurs outside Daisy’s flat, the police step in at last. Unfortunately, they finger Poppy’s boyfriend, Tol, for the crime – after all, he had bad blood with the victim. As Daisy’s money-hungry family circle amid hints of poisoning, bribery and blackmail, Poppy must find a way to clear Tol’s name and ensure Daisy’s safety.

~*~

Poppy McGowan is back for another mystery, a mere few months after a body was found under her new house. Now, she’s in the midst of renovations and caring for her injured Aunty Mary. Whilst staying with her aunt, Poppy discovers her aunt’s friend and neighbour, Daisy, has been attacked and burgled. Soon, Poppy becomes embroiled in another murder investigation involving Nathan Castle, a rock star, and the chagrin of Detective Constable Steven Martin and Detective Chloe as people linked to Nathan ad Chloe, and at least one other person Poppy and her boyfriend Tol know are under attack. Poppy must work hard to find out who is really behind the attacks – not only to save everyone in the family circle but to clear Tol’s name as poisoning, bribery, and blackmail abound!

Poppy is back for her second outing, and it is just as thrilling as her first. She’s happy with Tol, though his looming trip to Jordan has her questioning whether it can work, as he is an archaeologist with the University of Sydney, and her family has certain expectations of her based on their Catholic faith that Poppy tossed to the wind long ago, content to live her own life. And, she’s still helping Patience Carter from the first book, who is caught in a world of oppressive religion that doesn’t believe in educating girls. All while trying to find out who would want to hurt Mary, and why. Is Nathan Castle behind it all, or is it a stalker, keen to hurt the family in anyway they can? Or is it even closer to home? The mystery throughout this installment had me guessing the whole way through, and I did have my suspects that didn’t pan out, but that nonetheless often looked as though they were guilty.

Again, Poppy’s world is diverse, and I loved it – it showed so many ways of being Australian, even in the minor characters and smaller roles, and I feel like it worked well. Poppy’s world is one that I would love to be in – her job would suit me very well, and even though always stumbling across dead bodies might not be ideal, it would make for some interesting dinner conversations, I think! I have loved this series since it started, as it allows the characters to have their opinions – they come up against challenges of all kinds, and lots of conflict, but that is because this is reflective of life and what it means to be part of a society where everyone has different beliefs and opinions, and ways of thinking. It is effectively critical of some of the more traditional or over the top and evangelical ways of thought – illustrating that people are reluctant to just blindly follow an ancient religious text that has been constantly misinterpreted – as one example of this. I also loved Poppy’s sense of justice, and her determination to prove that Tol was not guilty of what Detective Steven Martin accused him of – it was an admirable thing to see, even when Poppy was questioning how their relationship would play out whilst he was in Jordan,

Another aspect of the book that I loved was Poppy’s passion for education and the arts – two very important things, because without them, we would not have clothes, homes, furniture, entertainment – so many things that we have in our lives. Poppy tells stories in her job that allow her to bring the world beyond to life for school students, and this job allows her to also investigate the crimes that pop up in her life, much to Detective Chloe’s chagrin, but I felt like Detective Chloe was starting to warm towards Poppy in this book – and she seemed like she knew how to put people like Detective Steve Martin in his place when he stepped out of line.

Everything about this book was perfectly plotted – each new suspect made the mystery more complex – Tol, Vanessa, Esmerelda, Oscar – they all had a part to play overall in the narrative, and I loved the way everyone spoke out against Vanessa’s treatment of her disabled daughter, Anthea. Each character in this book is unique, and the key characters have a very keen sense of justice that at times is in conflict with other characters, but illustrates how discriminatory actions can lead to unforeseen outcomes.

I really loved this book, and I’m so keen for the next in the series, and where it takes Poppy next. So far she’s navigated the world of archaeology, and now the world of stardom and celebrity – where we see that what Nathan Castle experiences as his stage persona is vastly different to his at home persona. I loved this touch as we gained an insight into the idea of a public person’s private life, how media tries to exploit that, and the lengths people will go to so they can exploit it. But also, how people will do what they can to help protect that, even if they’re tempted the other way. It all came together really well.

Another great Poppy McGowan book!

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