“Imitation of Death” by Cheryl Crane / Monday, December 10, 2012 / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is Imitation of Death by Cheryl Crane.

"Imitation of Death" by Cheryl Crane

Pruning sheers right in the chest.

Why Clay Stafford chose this book:

What could be finer on a cold winter day than a cozy from sunny California?

“Imitation of Death” by Cheryl Crane is the second mystery featuring Nicolette “Nikki” Harper, a Hollywood celebrity realtor who is also the daughter of fictional Hollywood star Victoria Bordeaux (just as author Cheryl Crane is the actual daughter of film legend Lana Turner).

The present-day murder mystery begins with a pair of pruning sheers. Nikki is not a detective by trade, but she can’t help but get involved to defend the gardener she knows in her heart is innocent. Using her influence as the child of a famous Hollywood actress to gain access to her mother’s rolodex, the investigative techniques of the mother / daughter partnership falls somewhere between “Murder She Wrote” and Nancy Drew. I appreciated the purposeful plotting and excellent end revelation, along with the long list of certainly flawed suspects on all echelons of Hollywood social strata.

Just by growing up in that bubble, children of celebrities know many skeletons in the Hollywood closet and Cheryl Crane fictionalizes them delightfully here. A most-enjoyable couple of hours of amateur sleuthing through Beverly Hills.

From the publisher:

“Cheryl Crane, daughter of movie icon Lana Turner, brings her Hollywood insider expertise to the second book in a star-studded mystery series featuring celebrity realtor-turned-sleuth Nikki Harper and her screen goddess mother, Victoria Bordeaux…Nikki Harper is a superstar among Hollywood realtors. Among private investigators however, she’s strictly amateur, and her first case was a Waterworld-sized disaster. But when a body turns up in a dumpster behind Victoria Bordeaux’s mansion, Nikki feels duty-bound to get involved. Before his demise, Eddie Bernard was the uber-privileged son of one of the biggest TV producers of all time, and a spoiled, violent, party-boy loser. The list of people glad to see him gone could stretch from one end of Bel Air to the other. In fact, about the only person Nikki’s sure is innocent is the prime suspect: Jorge Delgado, her childhood friend and the son of Victoria’s housekeeper. With the D.A. and the media throwing the words “death penalty” around, Nikki has to help. Victoria, of course, can’t wait to delve into another Tinseltown scandal, and soon Nikki is submerged in a secret world of celebrity drug-dealing, dangerous cults, conniving stars, illegal aliens and, of all things, the Food Network. With the aid of a voyeuristic neighbour and some good old-fashioned bribery, Nikki starts to close in on the truth. But can she keep Jorge from facing the final curtain…while keeping herself out of a killer’s spotlight?”

If you want to make your own comments on this selection, we would love to hear from you. Join our Facebook Killer Nashville group page or our blog and join in the discussion.

Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!

– Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville