An A-List for Death is the first book I’ve read by Pamela Hart who’s perhaps best know for her historical fiction. I hadn’t realised it was part of a series but it’s only the second so there’s certainly time to catch up. (Without suffering too much from the ‘sequel’ blues I’ve talked about before – coming into a series part-way through and being completely lost with insufficient context or given too much backstory, rendering all previous books redundant cos of spoilers!)
It features Poppy McGowan who’s a researcher with an ABC Children’s Television show and that alone was enough to convince me that this is someone I wanted to know. It just seemed like a very specific job for a amateur sleuth… when we’re used to retired cops, PIs, lawyers, journalists or village spinsters.An A-List for Death
by Pamela Hart
Series: Poppy McGowan #2
Published by HQ Fiction AU
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Crime Fiction
TV researcher Poppy McGowan has never sought the spotlight and is none too happy to be photographed with rock god Nathan Castle. When the photo pops up on celebrity gossip sites, it sparks a media feeding frenzy, forcing Poppy to go to ground, don a wig, and pull some nifty moves to escape a tailing car. And she cops abuse from Nathan's outraged fans.
None of this would have happened if Poppy had not found Nathan's mother Daisy, one-time glamour girl and elderly best friend of her Aunty Mary, bleeding and unconscious in her bathroom. The police dismiss the case as an accident, but Poppy is sure there are questions to be answered. Who attacked Daisy, and why? Will she come out of her coma? What secrets are her gathering family hiding? What happens to Daisy's money if she dies?
When a murder occurs outside Daisy's flat, the police step in at last. Unfortunately, they finger Poppy's boyfriend, Tol, for the crime - after all, he had bad blood with the victim. As Daisy's money-hungry family circle, amid hints of poisoning, bribery and blackmail, Poppy must find a way to clear Tol's name and ensure Daisy's safety.
I very much liked Poppy. She’s smart and pragmatic and doesn’t take life too seriously. I could also relate to her philosophy on police investigations and personal secret-keeping (ie. penchant for over-sharing), bookmarking this:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from mystery books, it’s not to keep anything back from the police. Which I must admit suits my personality. I’m good at keeping other people’s secrets, but I’m not all that interested in having any of my own. p 170
I feel seen. 🙄
We also spend time with her eccentric aunt Mary who was quite the character. Poppy references a few other relatives and we meet her parents so I suspect ‘family’ plays a role in this series (kinda like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series perhaps?). Her family, work colleagues and friends all give Poppy’s world a lot of texture so she comes across as very real. Fully-formed, if you like.
We’re given cause to be a bit suspicious of her boyfriend Bartholomew (Tol) here and Poppy talks of their relationship in an uncertain way. She’s definitely committed but he’s about to go away on a ‘dig’ and she’s worried they won’t survive a long-distance relationship.
Celebrity and musician Nathan (Jonathon to his mother) is dangled in front of Poppy and she’s certainly taken in by his charisma. And he comes across as a nice down-to-earth guy (despite being willing to write-off $2.5m here without blinking #longstory!). But of course he’s got as much motive as some of his and Daisy’s other money-hungry relatives for her demise so Poppy has to keep her guard up.
This is an enjoyable read. Tremendous fun in the style of Miss Fisher or similar. Hart’s writing flows effortlessly and we’re offered up several suspects without feeling bamboozled by an author trying to overcomplicate things. I don’t read much cosy crime (other than Agatha Christie of course) but I fell in love with Poppy and her world. I’m definitely going to seek out the first in this series (Digging Up Dirt) and will look forward to number 3 and beyond.
An A-List for Death by Pamela Hart was published in Australia by Harper Collins (HQ Fiction) and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.