Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber

A fun, sexy, murder-mystery/romance for all teen sleuths!

Aphra Behn Connolly has the type of life most teenage girls envy. She lives on a remote tropical island and spends most of her time eavesdropping on the rich and famous. The problem is that her family’s resort allows few opportunities for her to make friends—much less to meet cute boys. So when a smoldering Seth Mulo arrives with his parents, she’s immediately drawn to him. Sure, he’s a little bit guarded, and sure his parents are rather cold, and okay he won’t say a word about his past, but their chemistry is undeniable. Then a famous rock star’s girlfriend turns up dead on the beach—strangled by her own bikini top—and alarm bells sound. Is it too great a coincidence that Seth’s family turned up just one day before a murder? As the plot thickens, Aphra finds that danger lurks behind even the most unexpected of faces. . . .

Grade: C //

I'm an avid mystery reader (Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew and A-Z Mysteries anyone?) and having not read a good mystery novel in over a month, I bumped this up on my ever-growing TBR pile. I wasn't disappointed, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting.

The plot boils down to basically this: A girl is found dead on the beach of a private island resort owned by Aphra's father, seemingly choked by her bikini straps. Everyone believes the straps simply got tangled and that it was an accident. Aphra, however, gets the tingling sensation that there was some foul play. And so she turns to the rest of the guests on the resort, all of whom look like they have something to hide, and embarks on an investigative endeavor to find the dead girl's killer.

My thoughts in a nutshell:

Not so much a mystery. Despite how marketing worked it, I had the culprit figured out ten pages after the crime took place. I suspect any reader will too (especially rabid whudunnit fans like myself). The other components of the story, such as Aphra's relationship with Seth, her mother's enigmatic background and whereabouts, and the island life in general were much more compelling.

Snappy characters. This novel relies on its plot more than its cast to move forward, which reflects in sometimes more told-than-shown character interaction and development. I would've enjoyed seeing more of the Aphra/father dynamics or a bigger revelation out of Seth about his family. Exploring those characters would've made for a more rounded book, in my opinion. I'm not saying the characters were underdeveloped, because I could get a definite sense of personality from all of them, but I think a bit more of their lives could've been touched here and there. The set-up's all there--it just needs to be used more.

Breezy writing. Loved this. Linda Gerber knows how to handle fast-paced novels without dawdling on insignificant details. Even though the mystery wasn't a challenge, she set it up well (albeit requiring some suspension of belief here and there), focusing on all the right parts. The action passages, in particular, were well-crafted and vividly described.

Bombshell ending. The ending was a big bomb dropped on me and before I even had time to digest it--ZAP!--it was over. This is my biggest gripe on the execution. Preparing for the sequel, no doubt, but come on! Don't like cliffhangers.

Hopefully the next book, Death by Latte, will touch on this issues I desperately want to know more about.


Amee said...

Great review! I've tried at least 4 times, maybe more, to win this book and no luck. I might just have to buy this one later this summer (after my birthday when I have money again). :P

Anonymous said...

que cool review...I am not a mystery fan...wonder if I will be able to figurre it out? I like the plot and setting...seems like it would appeal to many teens...

thanks for the review.

Steph said...

Ambeen -- I can't believe I won it myself, lol. It's all in luck, I guess >.< Thanks, though!

Zulmara -- heh, you might really love it. I'm often told I'm no fun anyway with these kinds of things cos I shoot straight for who did it and don't play along with the character's gradual discoveries. So take my opinion with a grain of salt. I still quite liked this book--it's very good to pass time. Give it a shot. Oh, and thanks for dropping by!


Anonymous said...

lol, I'm probably about like 90 pages from the crime and I still don't know who did it. I am HORRIBLE with mysteries, mainly because I just go along with the characters' discoveries and even when I try to analyze in between readings of the book, I still won't get it necessarily. So right now, the mystery of everything is really gripping me and having me turn pages.

Bookworm said...

I loved this one! Definitely an A for me!

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