Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

Genres: Noir, Mystery, Young Adult
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: ARC from Publisher

Add on Goodreads
"Don't believe anything they say."

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her--and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn't a kid anymore, and this time she won't let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets--and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie's attacker behind bars--if Alice can find her first. And she isn't the only one looking

Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of past.

Dead to Me is a book as pretty as its cover (although I really shouldn’t be using the word pretty).

As someone who has always been a noir mystery fan, I had a lot of fun reading this book and thought it was the perfect brain candy! It might not have been as noir as it could have been but it was still noir enough to satisfy me and keep me on the edge of my seat, flipping through the pages and trying to figure out what exactly was at play here.

Before I talk about all the good stuff, I wanted to talk a little about the setting of the novel. Dead To Me is set in the late 1940’s. There is so much that could have been done with that and even in the blurb, 'the golden Hollywood age' is mentioned, but the potential for this wasn't realized, at least I never felt it was. Their are so many things specific to that time period but they weren't as played up as they could have been. If it weren’t for little things here and there, I would have had no idea that this book was set almost 60 years in the past. I am not saying that the author doesn't go into incredibly awesome details regarding Hollywood and all the secrets that come with it but the problem is that I never felt as though it was enough and I wanted more than just Hollywood in that time period. 

My issues regarding the setting aside, Alice was fantastic female lead. Her determination, her need to find out what actually happened, kept me turning the pages. It’s hard to not want to know how this all turns out. Where is everything going? Every corner Alice looks in, some deep hidden secret comes crawling out and she is forced to question the world as she knows it. She is so determined and while it did seem a tad unrealistic that this young girl managed to do all of these things all on her own, I decided to roll with it for the sake of the story. Alice was so believable as a female lead because not all of her decisions were on point but she did manage to make a lot of smart decisions over the course of the book. The way she solved the mystery and put together the puzzle pieces made sense to me as a reader. She is not a perfect character but she isn't that imperfectly perfect kind of character either. She makes mistakes that will make you shake your head but she also makes other decisions that make you want to high five her.

There is an entire entourage of secondary character who are all as interestingly developed as Alice and I liked getting to know them. One of the things McCoy did very well was making sure none of the characters were flat. Bad guys aside, the secondary characters walked a thin line between black and white. They all had their faults and it just made them so much more interesting to read about.
It added to this idea of black vs. white in the story because there are so many lines being crossed that you no longer know what is more shocking. Is it okay for someone to do something terrible because it was a choice between their lives and the thing they were being asked to do? 

This book is incredibly atmospheric and McCoy does a great job in building the deceit, lies and the secrets. It’s a book that is well plotted. Nothing about it screams predictable and yet you won’t find yourself being surprised. I make it sound like a bad thing but it isn’t. It works incredibly well for this book and adds in a realistic layer. If there had been more red herrings and more ‘surprises’, I know it would have been harder for me to take this book seriously but as it is, my eyes were glued to the pages.

One of the best parts of this book is that there was no romance, there was a moment or two that made me question if the author would decide to throw one in but there were wayyyyy too many other things on Alice’s mind to think about any boys in any sort of way. She is being beaten up by bad guys, she is chasing bad guys! None of this actually leaves room for some ladi-da romance. SERIOUS STUFF IS GOING DOWN.

What made this book so fantastic was the way the author wrapped everything up. The book really picked up pace toward the end and I was so worried about how the author would resolve everything. I was worried she would decide to give this mystery a clean cut ending but that isn't what happened. Not everything is perfect in the real world and the book didn’t end on a  ‘everything is solved and we can go back to our normal life now’ note. It was more realistic than that and it did justice to the book.

This is a fun noir mystery and while it may not be perfect, I definitely enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it to noir mystery fans or anything just looking for something exciting to pick up!

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