IMITATION OF DEATH (Nikki Harper Mysteries #2) by Cheryl Crane
IMITATION OF DEATH is the second novel (August 2012 release) in Cheryl Crane’s Nikki Harper Mystery series. Cheryl Crane is the daughter of screen legend Lana Turner and brings much of her ‘inside Hollywood’ style into her storylines.
The Nikki Harper series focuses on the mother daughter duo of world famous screen actress Victoria Bordeaux and her amateur investigator daughter Nicolette ‘Nikki’ Harper. The pair can be found at the scene of some pretty infamous crimes. But when their neighbor’s troubled son, Eddie Bernard is found murdered, Nikki takes it upon herself to prove the Jorge Delgado, her childhood friend, is not the guilty party. The problem, the murder weapon is a pair of garden shears owned by Victoria’s gardener Jorge, and witnesses had seen them arguing the day before on the Bernard’s property. Jorge had threatened to kill Eddie Bernard.
Cheryl Crane weaves old time Hollywood magic with current day problems and contemporary icons. Drugs, illegal immigrants, actors in the closet and back stabbing wanna-bes are nothing new in Hollywood, but Cheryl adds references from today’s popular culture ala The Food Network, Dancing with the Stars, Housewives of Wherever Crap (I quote) and Entertainment Tonight blending the old with the new including product placement without the visuals. I can’t but help picturing Lana Turner as the elegant screen actress Victoria Bordeaux. And poor Nicolette is besieged with people asking about her mother at every turn-someone always wants an autograph.
We are introduced to the grieving neighbors including father Abe Bernard and his current and ex-wife Ginny and Melinda, as well as an assortment of extended family and assistants, all with a different story to tell. And Victoria’s side is not without some troubles of their own. But Eddie Bernard had led a drug and alcohol induced life of one trouble after another. He had just been released from, yet another, rehab when the unfortunate ‘accident’ had occurred. He was an embarrassment to his family, and someone was willing to stop him permanently. But when a Mexican gardener is accused of killing a wealthy white boy, the police had all but signed Jorge’s death warrant.
As the story develops, the finger pointing and accusations worsen especially when Eddie’s history reveals how deep he was into the drug scene. The further Nikki digs, the more she is certain that someone from Eddie’s life of drugs was responsible for his death. Illicit homosexual affairs, cocaine abuse and blackmail were all part of Eddie’s past, but it would be someone close to Eddie that was pushed one incident too far.
IMITATION OF DEATH reads like a who’s who of Hollywood. The characters are all fictitious but the storyline could very well have come from any number of true hidden family secrets amongst the rich and famous. At times the number of suspects on Nikki’s list was as large as a small village, but Eddie had made quite a number of enemies in his short life on earth. Cheryl Crane hides the identity of the murderer until the very end and then you look back and say…..”ah, I should have seen that coming”.
Copy supplied by Goodreads Firstreads
Reviewed by Sandy