Life gets tougher for Emily in this second book of the series. Having already lost her beloved pet in the first book, she has now lost her job. After her neighbor Victoria confides in her that she has been receiving threatening letters, Emily decides to help her out at her stage school. When the school's landlord is found dead, Emily and her eccentric philosophy professor neighbor, Dr. Muriel, team up to solve the crime.
In the second installment of the Emily Castles series, author Helen Smith continues exploring a cast of quirky characters in present-day London. We meet Victoria and her husband Piers. Victoria runs a local stage school and is in the middle of planning the end of the year show. She's distracted by a series of poison pen letters she's been receiving. She confides in Emily that she wonders if her ex-boyfriend might be responsible, since he has suddenly reappeared in her life, expressing an interest in having his daughter attend the school.
Like in the first book, Smith's strength resides in her quirky characters. She truly knows how to create memorable characters, which is a big plus for this series. The introduction of Morgana and her relationship with Dr. Muriel was fun to explore.
While I felt Showstoppers was a stronger book than the first, the plot still had a few issues. Now, I'm guessing the short length of these stories may be part of the reason, but in Showstoppers I wasn't convinced the motive was strong enough. If we had time to uncover the culprit's history more deeply, it may have been clearer why he/she acted in that manner. In addition, Victoria hires Emily to help her at the school and quickly puts her to work. Why did Victoria put so much trust in Emily? They were neighbors, not best friends. I also didn't feel the running joke about the video Victoria made when she was in film school added much. I'm guessing it's supposed to be funny everyone thinks it's "that kind of video," and someone's misinterpretation of what the video contains plays an important role at one point, but it felt overdone.
All that said, I truly love the characters Smith has created, so I'm eager to see what happens when a full-length Emily Castles novel comes out. If issues are smoothed out by more time to develop the storyline, then Smith will have a winning series.
File Size: 182 KB
Print Length: 48 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Tyger Books (December 5, 2011)
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I received a free Kindle version of this book from the author through her publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.