Dead Lift Review
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There’s just something about an easygoing chick lit mystery. Whether you’re lounging on the beach or you’re unwinding after a long day, it’s the perfect escape. Still, it’s best if the story offers something new—like a fun cast of characters or an unexpected plot. And that’s where Rachel Brady’s Dead Lift falls a bit short.

After being reunited with the daughter who was stolen from her (in 2009’s Final Approach), Emily Locke has moved to Houston and put her career as a chemist on hold. While she tries to reconnect with five-year-old Annette, she’s decided to work part-time for private investigator Richard Cole, gathering facts and digging for clues to pay the bills. But Emily’s not so sure that her latest case it worth it. Not only is Richard working for sleazy defense attorney Mick Young, but the case itself is pretty unsightly, too.

Houston socialite Claire Gaston has been accused of murdering a successful plastic surgeon—one whom she claims she’s never even met. But Claire’s affairs are quite widely known, and she’s convinced that she’s been set up by a jealous wife.

Though Emily would like to believe that Claire’s guilty, something tells her that there’s more to the case than the evidence suggests—so she starts digging for clues in the most unlikely of places: a high-end gym for Houston’s wealthiest women.

Dead Lift is a laid-back whodunit that follows all of the usual cozy mystery formulas. The story is light and engaging, and it’s written with the occasional touches of humor. But although the mystery is satisfying, the lackluster characters make it feel a bit too familiar.

While the story in this sequel stands well on its own, readers of Brady’s previous Emily Locke mystery might feel more connected to the characters and their story than newcomers like me. Brady offers some information about her characters’ pasts, gradually giving first-time readers an idea of what happened in Final Approach, but the character development is still lacking. Emily seems like just another frazzled everywoman—like so many of the chick lit heroines you’ll find these days. She works hard, and she loves her daughter—but nothing about her makes her stand out in the chick lit crowd.

The supporting characters, too, seem like more of the same. Emily’s visiting best friend, Jeannie, is the typical spitfire sidekick. Her boyfriend, Vince, is sweet but bland. And even Mick Young doesn’t seem as slick and sleazy as he should. It’s not that you’ll dislike the characters; you just won’t really care that much about them, since they don’t have a whole lot of personality.

If you’re in the mood for a light and undemanding chick lit mystery, Dead Lift isn’t a bad choice. The story is interesting, and the mystery will keep you guessing. But, when it comes to characters, Dead Lift could have used a bit of a face lift.

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