Killer Nashville Book of the Day

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day / Reviewed by Kelly Saderholm

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Lori Rader-Day Photo Credit - Oomphotography
Lori Rader-Day Photo Credit – Oomphotography

There is nothing little about Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day. The plot revolves around a ten-year reunion of two high school friends, who were teammates as well as rivals, and things go terribly wrong.

One friend, Madeline Bell, a high school track star, ends up dead. The other friend, Juliet Townsend, is the lead suspect. Maddy, as it turns out, left her Indiana hometown, and achieved what seems to be a glamorous life in Chicago. Juliet stayed behind and stagnated, barely making ends meet, working as a maid in a cheap one star motel.

As with the best mystery novels, Little Pretty Things is more than just a whodunit. It is also a beautifully written psychological thriller. Juliet is unable to resist taking little pretty things that guests have left behind in their rooms: a glittery barrette, a sparkling earring, a glass perfume bottle. To solve Maddy’s murder, and absolve her own guilt over Maddy’s death, Juliet has to solve the puzzle of her own inability—or unwillingness—to move ahead in her own life. As she does this, she discovers that others are taking little pretty things, in the form of underage female students and exploiting them, with grim results.

Dealing with such dark subjects, this novel could have easily plunged into a preachy or heavy social commentary, but it does not. Rader-Day’s deft writing and wry humor shines through and provides a thoughtful, yet entertaining read. She is able to make the mundane ins and outs of running a squalid hotel interesting. This reviewer was captivated by the first sentence:

The walkie-talkie on the front desk hissed, crackled and finally resolved into Lu’s lilting voice: “At what point,” she said, “do we worry the guy in two-oh-six is dead?”

Little Pretty Things is Ms. Rader-Day‘s second novel, following her award winning debut novel The Black Hour, both of which are published by Seventh Street Press, an imprint of Prometheus Books. In addition to her two novels, Ms. Rader-Day has also written award winning short fiction.

Kelly Saderholm has written, blogged and lectured about aspects of the mystery novel. She is currently shifting from writing about mystery fiction to writing actual mystery fiction and is working on a novel, as well as a non-fiction book dealing with Folklore in the American South. She lives in South Central Kentucky with her family and feline office assistants.

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