There’s nothing I like better than finding a new author, a new mystery series, and new characters that I fall in love with and “Death Unscripted” by M.K. Graff, fits the bill to a tee.
In this terrific novel I met Trudy Genova who works as a nurse consultant behind the scenes at a soap opera in New York City. Who would think that a soap opera needed a behind the scenes nurse on call while filming? Not me, never even occurred to me but that’s Trudy’s job and it sounds pretty terrific. Her hours aren’t all that bad, she meets lots of famous soap opera stars, gets to eat good food catered for them, and her best friend, Meg Pitman, works at the studio with her. The perfect job I would say and so would Trudy. That is until the lead actor in the soap opera, Griff Kennedy, is poisoned and dies on the set. With Griff’s last breath he points at Trudy and says, “you, you.” Just as Griff dies Trudy thinks, “me, me?”
Now all the cast members and everyone working on the show thinks Trudy had something to do with the actor’s demise. But Trudy never did anything to Griff. Well, there was that time she wasted a perfectly good pie when she she dumped it on Griff’s head in the cafeteria but, hey, he deserved it. Always hitting on Trudy and making lewd advances. Who needs that? But other than the pie incident she didn’t do anything to the womanizing actor, but someone certainly did.
The lead actress in the soap is, Nikki Olivier, was married to Griff at one point, then divorced him, then married him again, then divorced him again, and the two were still playing footsies. Some people just never learn. Maybe Nikki found out that her on again off again husband was two-timing her with other young actresses and every other woman around, and she slipped him some poison. Trudy thinks she better investigate because the police think that she killed Griff since he pointed to her as he died.
Trudy doesn’t much trust the police because of what happened to her father years ago but she does kind of admit that there is something interesting about lead Detective Ned O’Malley and his able assistant, Detective Tony Borelli. Best friend Meg thinks that Borelli is interesting too because as soon as they meet each other Cupid grabbed his little arrow and pierced the two of them. And Cupid is hovering around Trudy and O’Malley who find themselves looking at each other a little more than they should.
Oh, forget love, forget Cupid, there’s a murderer to be found and Trudy, Meg, O’Malley, and lovesick Borelli will find the culprit even if it kills Trudy.
I haven’t watched a soap opera since Luke and Laura from “General Hospital” fell in love some 40 years ago and it was fun to get the inside scoop of backstage life.
“Death Unscripted” is a fine murder mystery/cozy type of novel. I say it’s a cozy because there is that cozy-factor involved; a woman who has no police training except for reading all those mystery books sets out to solve a murder while falling for some good looking strong man while doing so. But in this book it’s kind of good because Trudy and O’Malley are more grown up than the usual cozy characters and each have pretty complicated back stories which author M.K. Graff lets her readers know about as the story proceeds.
I also like that the novel is told from different perspectives. You see what Trudy is doing in one chapter and then in another you see what’s going on through O’Malley’s eyes as he investigates. This gives the reader an interesting and different take on the investigation.
Like all Detectives O’Malley and Borelli have more than just one case to solve. All things do not revolve around the death of the actor and the two have to divide up their time. Not as easy as it sounds what with someone stalking Trudy and breaking into her apartment. O’Malley has his hands full keeping an eye on her.
Since this is series I’m not giving anything away by saying that eventually the murderer is discovered but it isn’t as simple as the killer admitting to the deed. The story is detailed and complicated and the reason for the murder is very different than what readers suspect. I liked that twist a lot.
“Death Unscripted” is the first in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series and now I have to open up my purse, let the moths fly out, and buy the rest of the series to gorge on. Shelling out a few bucks for a really good novel is well worth the price.