BUBBLES IN TROUBLE
In her second novel featuring the high-energy beautician/rookie reporter, Bubbles Yablonsky (after 2001's Bubbles Unbound), Strohmeyer successfully navigates the fine line between humorous stereotype and sympathetic amateur investigator. As the novel opens, the tube top–wearing, Camaro-driving, self-described last "Polish-Lithuanian Barbie doll in Lehigh, Pennsylvania" is taking the blame for jinxing the nuptials of her shy friend, Janice, a records clerk in the local police department. Janice has not only gone missing but the uncle with whom she lives is soon found dead in his gated retirement home. Bubbles retraces Janice's last steps, which lead to some shady doings in Amish country. Bubbles goes undercover, frantically (and hilariously) shifting between her role as a sexy reporter and her cover as an Amish widow. Despite her bumbling in a foreign culture, Bubbles manages to win the friendship and trust of this tight-knit community, and her own respect and growing understanding of the Plain folk is nicely conveyed. Bubbles's hunky beau, photographer Steve Stiletto, makes a steamy appearance, along with many other well-wrought oddball characters, including Bubbles's mother, Lulu, who's going through a Jackie O. phase. The over-the-top force-of-nature protagonist and the lovingly detailed descriptions of clothing and hair styles make up for some gaps in logic and a slightly rushed ending. Also delightful are the useful recipes (hangover cure, cuticle softener, etc.)—all involving vinegar—sprinkled throughout. Agent, Heather Schroder. (July 1)
FYI:At this past May's Malice Domestic convention, Bubbles Unbound won an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery Novel.