cover image A Star Is Dead

A Star Is Dead

Elaine Viets. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9016-0

In Agatha finalist Viets’s skillfully plotted fourth mystery featuring death investigator Angela Richman (after 2018’s Ice Blonde), the burghers of Chouteau Forest, a posh community 30 miles from St. Louis, are agog at the prospect of meeting Jessica Gray, “a sixties beauty who’d starred in two classic films from that era, Flower Power and Eternally Groovy.” Jessica, the peddler of her own kale-based beauty products, has agreed to attend a party at the mansion of a prominent Chouteau Forest resident after the final performance of her one-woman show. There Jessica slips seamlessly from charm to condescension, managing to offend an ever-widening circle of people. It’s little wonder that she ends up dead. When Angela’s friend Mario Garcia, who was Jessica’s hairdresser during her stay in the area, is arrested for her murder, Angela steps up to help prove Mario’s innocence. Witty dialogue and well-defined characters, including plucky and intelligent Angela, lift this wry look at the trappings of celebrity. Fans and newcomers alike will be pleased. Agent: Joshua Bilmes, JABberwocky Literary. (Apr.)