Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Killing Kelly" by Heather Graham

Kelly Trent is a daytime soap actress on the hit show "Valentine Valley". She plays Marla Valentine, a man-hating advice columnist. But it seems somebody can't discern between fantasy and reality, and wants Kelly/Marla gone forever. A near-fatal accident on-set sees Kelly's character put on indefinite hiatus. Her agent suggests she take on a role in a music video clip for hot band Kill Me Quick's new single "Tango To Terror" to keep her face and profile in the public eye.

Since Kelly can't dance, a dance instructor is brought on board. Luckily, Doug O'Casey is both a former cop and licenced private investigator as well, so he can teach her to dance and act as her bodyguard as well. When real-life advice therapists start showing up dead, and more attempts are seemingly made on Kelly's life, she must figure out if somebody she already knows is obsessed with knocking her off permanently.

This is a follow-up to "Dead On The Dance Floor", which I have read, but can't remember too many details of it. I dare say it wasn't as tedious, obvious and far-fetched as this effort. A dance instructor who is also a former cop with a private investigator's licence? Talk about contrived. Of course, being a romantic suspense writer, Graham throws in multiple characters from previous books, to the point where it is difficult to keep them all apart. For God's sake, if you're not going to progress the characters from previous novels, or their relationships, just leave them out!

Kelly Trent herself is an extremely annoying character. Understandably, she doesn't want the death and destruction around her to be because of her, as that means her life is really is in danger, but she uses this an excuse to be blatantly naive, and do whatever she wants, no matter how dangerous it is. Any reasonably intelligent person who wanted to remain skeptical, could at least show some freaking common sense. Kelly has none. Zero. Zilch. She deserved to be knocked off by an unstable fan.

The suspects are all interchangeable. Graham at least has the decency to make the culprit one of the suspects, rather than pull some Scooby-Doo surprise villian out of her hat. Their motive and execution of it still lacks coherency, however. I had picked up a couple of extra Heather Graham novels (cheaply) because "Ghost Shadow" was such an unexpected above-average surprise. But "Killing Kelly" is a meandering, contrived, loosely plotted mess filled with badly-developed characters.

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