HEATHER WELLS ROCKS!
Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two—and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather’s residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.
The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen—not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives—even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!
But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong …
I’m on a cozy mystery kick. And while I have read this one before–back in high school, I believe–I couldn’t remember anything other than I loved it. But I’m excited to re-look at this story and highlight what I did love about it.
Which, front and center, has to be the humor. Heather Wells is a former pop-star who deals with the hard knocks life has thrown her way with witty snark. And I love that. Her voice is such a compelling part of the narrative. From the start, just through her voice alone, we learn about the droll disposition and loyal dedication of the character–qualities she uses to help solve the mysterious deaths happening in her dorm, er, resident hall place of business.
The mystery is well-thought out and inventive. It’s simple but complex in its execution, which I found wonderful. I could follow along easily, not bogged down in extraneous detail or red herrings. Cabot knows clearly where she wants the mystery to go and doesn’t meander in her path to reach the reveal. The extra time is spent instead developing the cast of characters and expanding Heather’s personality and subplots–which were quite humorous. Her interactions with the other characters varied from entertaining to sweet, from crazy to heartwarming.
That being said, I did think Heather’s continuous mentions of weight and being a size 12 tended to fall on the tangential side. Every few chapters we had a reminder. I enjoyed some of the tie-ins but others felt a tad forced. I did appreciate what she was shooting for–as a larger woman, I love it when all body types are celebrated. But it just tended to crop up again and again.
I loved this book. It was beautifully written, with a well-thought out mystery, and a cast of characters I wish I could meet. The constant repetition about being size 12 detracted slightly from the story, but only just a little. By the next paragraph, I was back into the story. Meg Cabot is such a talented author–one I love coming back to time and time again. 4.5 out of 5 stars!