Shelly Fredman,
Brandy Alexander #1:
No Such Thing as a Secret

(AuthorHouse, 2005)

The first episode in this mystery series introduces us to Brandy Alexander, a young investigative reporter who has an affinity for anything chocolate, especially TastyKake cupcakes, and whose curiosity may well be her downfall. Originally from Philadelphia, Brandy has spent the last four years in the television business in Los Angeles, where she's the gal who does minor human interest features no one else wants to cover. She's not entirely pleased with her current employment, and she relishes the chance to take some time off and return home for the wedding of one of her best friends, Franny.

But to say that other events get in the way is an understatement. After Brandy reconnects with another best friend, John, his boat explodes during an excursion near Atlantic City. Devastated by her loss, Brandy vows to catch the person who had been following John and who obviously sabotaged his boat. Her investigation leads her into some of the seamier parts of Philly, and among petty criminals, construction company officials, gay bar hoppers, at least one dirty cop and even the mayor himself.

She knows she's on the right track, because several attempts are made on her own life. This fact is disconcerting to a number of people. Sure, Brandy's still got family members in the area, and girlfriends Franny, Janine and Carla are supportive. But some handsome men are standing around, too. Nick Santiago is a new acquaintance, a sexy man of mystery, well-versed in self-defense tactics, and one who seems to have connections with the criminal element in the region. Police detective Bobby DiCarlo is Brandy's former boyfriend and was her main reason for relocating to California. Now remarried and a new father, Bobby shouldn't appeal to her anymore, especially when he’s lecturing her on getting personally involved in what’s happening. But as Bobby tries to steer Brandy away from the investigation and its ramifications, Nick conspires to accompany her on her jaunts. Do either one of them really care about her? And who's behind not just the attempt on John's life, but the other related murders as well? All we can hope for is that Brandy (with Nick and/or Bobby) can somehow locate the killer before he can locate her.

Being from southeastern Pennsylvania myself, I immediately liked Brandy Alexander. She's a fun-loving and funny young woman, and I was cheering her on for the duration of the book. Because I was drawn to her character, I was willing to overlook the many errors in the text. Oh, how I wish this book had gone through a traditional publishing house, one with an editor whose forte was dialogue and the use of quotation marks! Their use is so inconsistent here that the reader is at times left wondering who said what. A number of misspellings occur as well: "while we waited for the Calvary to arrive" and "I threw in some Reece's Peanut Butter Cups for the protein" are just two examples. Less lenient readers would toss a self-published book like this one aside after a few chapters. Nevertheless, I recommend No Such Thing as a Secret to mystery fans (especially to readers of Janet Evanovich and Sarah Strohmeyer's books) and fervently hope that Brandy's continuing escapades will eventually be picked up by the publishing company she and author Fredman deserve.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Corinne H. Smith

10 November 2007

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