Tuesday, February 18, 2020

ARC Review: Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little

Pretty as a Picture
Author: Elizabeth Little
Publication: Viking (February 25, 2020)

Description: An egomaniacal movie director, an isolated island, and a decades-old murder--the addictive new novel from the bestselling author of Dear Daughter

Marissa Dahl, a shy but successful film editor, travels to a small island off the coast of Delaware to work with the legendary--and legendarily demanding--director Tony Rees on a feature film with a familiar logline.

Some girl dies. 

It's not much to go on, but the specifics don't concern Marissa. Whatever the script is, her job is the same. She'll spend her days in the editing room, doing what she does best: turning pictures into stories.

But she soon discovers that on this set, nothing is as it's supposed to be--or as it seems. There are rumors of accidents and indiscretions, of burgeoning scandals and perilous schemes. Half the crew has been fired. The other half wants to quit. Even the actors have figured out something is wrong. And no one seems to know what happened to the editor she was hired to replace.

Then she meets the intrepid and incorrigible teenage girls who are determined to solve the real-life murder that is the movie's central subject, and before long, Marissa is drawn into the investigation herself.

The only problem is, the killer may still be on the loose. And he might not be finished.

A wickedly funny exploration of our cultural addiction to tales of murder and mayhem and a thrilling, behind-the-scenes whodunit, Pretty as a Picture is a captivating page-turner from one of the most distinctive voices in crime fiction.

My Thoughts: Marissa Dahl is a film editor. She is also apparently somewhere on the autism spectrum. Things in her personal life have made her want to take a job just to get away for a while. Even though she had a previous embarrassing encounter with director Tony Rees, his job would get her far enough away.

She isn't expecting a sixteen page NDA and the need to immediately take off for an unknown location which turns out to be an island off the coast of Delaware. Rees is making a movie about a murder that happened in 1994 and some of the suspects and others are still there on the island which might be why the set has been plagued with a series of accidents. Rees's character explains why there have also been a larger than usual number of employees fired. Calling Rees a control freak understates his personality.

Marissa is more or less left to sink or swim as she tries to get a handle on her new job. The movie part should be easy because she understands movies. But dealing with the people involved is very hard for her. She doesn't follow conversations well. She doesn't understand jokes. She is incredibly shy. And she finds herself with a bodyguard who seems really accepting of her peculiarities.

Marissa soon has questions and two young girls who are the children of hotel staff drag her into their investigation into the original murder just in time for there to be a second murder.

I loved Marissa's character and her unique way of seeing the world. I also loved the way the book was laid out with insertions of a podcast done after the whole case was wrapped up which gives us another way of looking at what happened.

Favorite Quote:
Everything in the whole horrible world would be eight million times easier if we all just said what we meant and meant what we said and sure, we would probably have to sacrifice drama and comedy and irony and suspense, but honestly, the time we saved might be worth it. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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