Shelly Fredman,
Brandy Alexander #2:
No Such Thing as a Good Blind Date

(AuthorHouse, 2006)

This second episode in the Brandy Alexander series finds the main character looking for a full-time job in her native South Philadelphia. After four years of working as an investigative reporter in Los Angeles, Brandy has moved back home (having bought the house she grew up in) and is hanging out with family and friends in a traditionally Italian neighborhood. She gets great support from them all, too, and needs to rely on them when her life is once again turned upside down by murder. About the only other comfort she gets comes from downing TastyKake chocolate cupcakes.

This time the strangeness begins when she invites Toodie Ventura to be her roommate. Toodie is an old grade-school chum whose elevator doesn't quite go up to the top floor, and he happens also to be an ex-con who tends to hoard some truly weird stuff. But he's a decent plumber, and that's what Brandy currently needs in a roommate. When Toodie's new freezer opens up to reveal parts of a dead body, Brandy finds herself again in the middle of a murder investigation. She doesn't want to believe Toodie is involved -- but since he's vanished, she can't very well ask him. So she embarks on a little digging expedition on her own.

Her actions don't sit very well with local homicide detective Robert "Bobby" Angelo DiCarlo, who not so long ago was Brandy's boyfriend. Now he's married to Marie and has a daughter named Sophie. Bobby obviously still has strong feelings for Brandy, in spite of his marital status. But that might be changing soon enough, as he and his wife are not exactly on the best of terms. Before too long, Brandy realizes that she has become a target not only for the criminals she is investigating, but also for Bobby's estranged wife, who has begun to stalk her. What a mess!

While Brandy has a number of girlfriends who provide sounding boards for her theories, her best friend of all is John, whom she (and some readers) thought she had lost for good in a previous escapade. She also finds investigative assistance from Nick Santiago. A bad boy with a soft side for Brandy, Nick is the quintessential handsome but dangerous man we would all warn her about if we could. Is their relationship becoming more than a friendship? And how does Bobby fit into Brandy's life now? How can either one of those men protect Brandy from the wrath of Marie and from the criminals that Brandy is crossing paths with? And where in the world is Toodie, anyway?

This follow-up novel to No Such Thing as a Secret is much better than its predecessor as far as punctuation and spelling are concerned. A few miscues do not detract from the writing, which is compelling enough to keep readers turning pages.

Brandy Alexander could hold her own as the third member of an urban Northeast detecting triangle, anchored by Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and Sarah Strohmeyer's Bubbles Yablonski. If she had stayed on the West Coast, she could have joined Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and compared bruises earned on the job. Fans of those sleuths will find a new set of books to read with this series.

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review by
Corinne H. Smith

29 December 2007

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