Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much (A Madison Night Mystery #4)

Author:  Diane Vallere
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback: Audio CD; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781635111989; 9781635111958; 9781520071893
Henery Press Publishing
264 Pages
$27.43; $15.93; $25.86; $6.99 Amazon
April 18, 2016


When Interior Decorator Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with handyman Hudson James, she expects designing days and romantic nights.  But after spotting a body in the river by the job site, she causes a rift in the team.  And in the strain of recurring nightmares and a growing dependency on sleeping pills, Madison seeks professional help to deal with her demons.  She learns more about the crime than she'd like thanks to girl talk with friends, pillow talk with Hudson, and smack talk with the local bad boys.  And after the victim is identified as the very doctor she's been advised to see, she wonders if what she knows can help catch a killer.  An unlikely ally helps navigate the murky waters before her knowledge destroys her, and this time, what she doesn't know might be the one thing that saves her life.

Madison Night is an interior decorator who specializes in Mid-Century Modern; not only in her business, but in her clothing.  You see, she shares a birthday with Doris Day, and dresses pretty much the same as Doris did in all of her films.  In other words, she's retro.  She's so into Doris that she even named her dog Rock (as in Hudson).

When she's surprised with a two-week getaway in Palm Springs with (and by) her significant other, Hudson James, what she expects isn't even nearly as close to what she gets.  It first turns out that the vacation is going to be more or less working for Hudson's brother-in-law Jimmy, and they'll be staying with him and Hudson's sister Emma.  But when they're run off the road by a speeding SUV a couple of blocks away from Emma's home, it at first seems to be just another jerk who doesn't know how to drive.

But later that day when Madison decides to join Hudson at the job site, she sees something floating in the water, and is convinced it's a body.  So the local police show up and find nothing, thinking it's just her imagination running wild, and it doesn't help that she cost Jimmy an entire days' work, which doesn't make him a fan of hers.  But when the body eventually turns up farther down the river, it seems Madison was right all along, but that's only the beginning of the story.

After Madison is threatened and Jimmy and Hudson are attacked, things begin to escalate.  It turns out the dead man has a connection to Emma, the police, and others; Madison begins to realize that there's something very dangerous going on, and she'll need not only the help of the Palm Springs police, but her friend in Dallas, Captain Tex Allen, to help her find the truth.  And if she doesn't find out soon, her ticket back home might just be cancelled...

This is the fourth book in the Madison Night Mysteries, and a very good entry indeed.  I will say that there was plenty of intrigue, secrets, and a good enough plot to keep me guessing until the very end.  I will also add that while I enjoy Madison's quirks (dressing like Doris and really into the retro style), I didn't enjoy it as much as the others.  Why?  Because first, she's supposed to be on a 'getaway', but it turns out to be nothing more than a working vacation, and that's not a vacation (nor a getaway) at all.  And what kind of romantic getaway has a couple staying with in-laws (which was the original plan)?  I also wondered why she was there, since they hadn't even started building yet, and she's an Interior Decorator, so there didn't seem to be a use for her services.  Nobody decorates a rock quarry; they didn't even have any groundwork laid.  But these things aside, the book was an easy read, and one that was interesting enough to keep me reading in one session, which is a nice thing.

There were some heavy issues to deal with in this book - Madison's nightmares, Jimmy's irrational dislike of her, and others, but they made the story more interesting, in my view.   When the ending comes and we discover the reason why the man was killed it all comes together nicely and makes for a believable plot and a tightly wrapped murder, which is how it should be; and some secrets are better off not being shared at all.  Although I felt there was more to the story to tell, it was still put together well enough to keep me reading the next in the series.  Recommended.


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