Deadly Summer by Denise Grover Swank

Darling Investigations, Book 1

Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank gives a former TV star one more shot at fame—and it proves to be a killer comeback…

Ten years ago, Summer Butler was television’s most popular teenage sleuth. Since then, she’s hit—what gossip sites just love to call—the gutter. Nearly bankrupt, betrayed, estranged from her greedy mother, and just about unemployable, she’s coaxed into that desperate haven for has-beens: reality TV.

Winging it as a faux PI, she’ll solve off-the-cuff mysteries in her hometown of Sweet Briar, Alabama. For added drama, there’s police chief Luke Montgomery, inconveniently Summer’s first and only love.

It’s when Summer stumbles upon a very real corpse that Darling Investigations takes an unexpected twist. The growing list of suspects is a big draw to viewers, but the reality is that Summer doesn’t know whom she can trust. Someone has written this killer new scene especially for her, and unless Summer gives the role everything she’s got, it could be her last…

Review: I had read one of the author’s contemporary romances and as I had a great time with it, I was curious to get into one of her cozy mysteries and I must admit that I had a really great time with the story.

Summer is a star in decline. Famous in a teenage show, her moment of glory is long gone. As her reputation worsens and she’s struggling with money problems, she’s headed for the last thing she ever wanted: reality TV. She will play a private detective, like the role she played on the small screen, and she will have to solve cases in her small hometown. Problem? Yes, because there are, in fact, several. It’s the town of her family with whom she no longer has ties and who hates her, but it’s also the town of the only man she ever really loved and who broke her heart.

Despite the translation problems in the French version, I had a really good time with the story. Summer is a heroine that is very easy to appreciate. Her return to her city will not really go as planned and if the investigations are starting from scratch, there is one case that will become much more dangerous than expected. Indeed, when a man disappears in town, Summer is determined to find him no matter what the show wants. But then, when she comes across a dead body and feels pursued, things will quickly turn sour. And what about Luke? It’s also very easy to fall under his spell and I was very curious to learn more about him.

It was a very good first volume and I have to say that I’m quite eager to discover the second one now.

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