Andy Kendricks is back in Too Pretty to Die, the fifth Debutante Dropout Mystery by Susan McBride. As usual, Andy is up to her blue-blooded eyeballs in trouble. An old acquaintance dies mere hours after barging in on a Pretty Party, the latest rage with well-heeled Dallas socialites. But was her death suicide as it appears, or is it murder, as Andrea suspects?
This fifth attempt of McBrideís is the best one yet, which is not to say itís a great book - just the best one so far. The writing is well executed and evenly paced. The plot is interesting without being overdone, and while not highly suspenseful it has enough twists and turns to keep it intriguing - a bit transparent in spots, but not so obvious that it ruins the storyline.
Longtime readers will be all-too familiar with the references to Andyís unused debutante ball dress that still hangs in the closet, to mother Cissyís disappointment over her daughterís failure to debut, and other such blather in regard to the main characterís rebellion against Dallas social customs. Thankfully, this time around those references are kept to a minimum, eliminating the repetitiveness of previous books in the series.
The biggest weakness of Too Pretty to Die is the lack of development in the main characters. Andy hasnít evolved and grown beyond the rebellious daughter/pushover friend role sheís played from the beginning. Cissy still comes across as rather cold, unemotional and demanding. Brian is kept as a peripheral character we know nothing about, even though he should be at the forefront because of his deepening relationship with Andy, and Janet is still the driven, self-serving friend who takes advantage of Andy every chance she gets. Itís a shame the characters havenít grown and changed, because thatís what keeps a series fresh, exciting and captivating to its readers.
All in all, this is the best Debutante Dropout yet, but it still doesnít command the attention the way other cozy mystery series do.