The basics: The Cinderella Murder is the first in a new series entitled Under Suspicion. Under Suspicion is a news special focused on unsolved cold cases. Although this is the first in the series, the production crew characters were featured in Higgins Clark's previous novel, I've Got You Under My Skin. This review, and the book itself, contains spoilers from I've Got You Under My Skin.
My thoughts: There are two main storylines in this mystery: the murder of Susan Dempsey twenty years ago and Laurie Moran's continued recovery after her husband's death and the death of his killer. Perhaps because I had not read I've Got You Under My Skin, I enjoyed Laurie's personal storyline much less. I didn't have an emotional connection to her, and much of it came off as over dramatic. For an otherwise strong female character, her interior thoughts about her husband's death and the romantic intentions of Alex came off as weak and somewhat annoying. The romance storyline felt somewhat forced and heavy-handed. I imagine, like in too many mystery series, that it will take several books for Laurie and Alex to actually become a couple, but it seems clear.
The mystery, however, was intriguing. Under Suspicion prides itself on picking cases in which most, if not all, of the suspects and main players are still alive...and willing to be on television talking about the case. Dubbed the Cinderella Murder because she was found dead with only one silver high heel on, the murder of a beautiful young college student and aspiring actress captivated news watchers twenty years ago. To spice it up even more, Susan was on her way to meet then-up-and-coming director (and now very famous director), Alex Buckley, to audition for a film role. Her roommate and friend ended up winning an Indie Spirit Award for that role.
There is a large cast of characters in this mystery, and each takes turns narrating, which provides the reader with more knowledge than any one person has. We follow the early interviews from each participant as they prepare to film the big scene. In this scene, each person will be in the same room, so they can all react to what others are saying. Alex, Laurie's love interest and famous defense attorney, hosts. The premise is intriguing, and it's one I enjoyed while I read.
The verdict: Despite enjoying the premise and the reading experience, I found the resolution somewhat disappointing. Clark and Burke withheld the critical details from the reader for too long, so when we do learn the identity of Susan's killer, there wasn't a wow moment. It's a competent page turner, and I think it would adapt to the screen quite well, but I was hoping for some sort of wow moment.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 320 pages
Publication date: November 18, 2014
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