Alibi in High Heels

Gemma Halliday
2008, Romance/Mystery
Dorcester, $6.99, 294 pages, Amazon ASIN 0843958359
Part of a series

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Subtle

I love mysteries, so imagine my excitement at reading a mystery set in Paris during Fashion Week. As a travel and Project Runway fan, could it get any better? I hope so, because Gemma Halliday's Alibi in High Heels is almost enough to turn me off from both the TV show and any thoughts of returning to Paris.

This is the fourth in Ms. Halliday's High Heels mysteries featuring shoe designer Maddie Springer, who in this entry will have her shoes featured in one of the top fashion shows at Paris Fashion Week. Before she can leave, however, one of her mother's wacky friends accidentally runs her down with a car, fracturing Maddie's leg. Despite having to wear a blue Smurf boot and use crutches, she goes to Paris, along with her mother, and that wacky friend.

Not long after Maddie's arrival, one of the models murdered with one of her stiletto pumps. Of course, she becomes the primary suspect in the crime, the media dubs her the Couture Killer, and - just as matter of factly - she sets out to find the real murderer.

Maddie involves her best friend (hired to replace the dead model) and Felix Dunn, a tabloid reporter, in her various escapades. Maddie's lover homicide detective Jack Ramirez catches the red-eye to Paris and arrives just in time to bail her out of jail for breaking-and-entering with Felix. Jack isn't happy to learn that Felix was with Maddie as he suspects Felix has feelings for her. Does she show proper appreciation for Jack's help? Does she take advantage of his expertise as a homicide detective? Of course not. Instead, while Jack showers the next morning, she sneaks out of the hotel and flies to London with her friend to do more snooping.

I didn't like either Maddie or Jack. I found her behavior to be immature at best and downright stupid at times. I might believe that she would inadvertently introduce herself as the Couture Killer once despite the fact that she's trying to be undercover, but to repeatedly introduce herself that way? And to the police?

I don't believe for a minute in the long-term potential of Maddie and Jack's relationship. They both have unrealistic expectations regarding the amount of time the other should spend on their career. Not to mention her attraction to Felix, and that she doesn't do a lot to discourage his attention.

I found Maddie's mother and her mother's friend to be particularly annoying. Take any "ugly American in Paris" story you have ever heard, multiply it by 100, and you barely touch the surface of their bad behavior.

The resolution of the murders was quite clever, but wasn't enough to override a very annoying book. Without going into spoilers, however, parts of the resolution just reinforced how stupid Maddie had been throughout the book.

It's clear that this series appeals to many readers. The cover indicates that it will soon be on television. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me. There are many great mystery series with strong romance threads, but this isn't one of them.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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