From Publishers Weekly
Cole's entertaining debut, winner of Minotaur and Malice Domestic's Best First Traditional Mystery competition, introduces fine art photographer Lydia McKenzie. Before the cheap wine is gone, the police arrive at Lydia's first New York solo exhibit, a collection of meticulously reconstructed homicide scenes, to inform her that one of her models, a good friend, has been killed and posed in the same manner as one of Lydia's photos. After another of her models suffers the same fate, attractive NYPD Det. Daniel Romero warns that Lydia may be next. Lydia begins to investigate, albeit in amateur fashion. Several members of her artist critique group make promising suspects, one of whom is arrested, but too late Lydia realizes she and the NYPD may be mistaken. She soon has cause to be grateful for her newly acquired self-defense techniques, learned at her best friend's insistence. Contemporary Manhattan, viewed through a struggling artist's eyes, lends social and cultural interest. (Feb.)
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Life imitates art with dire consequences in this provocative first novel. Intrigued by a book about past murders in her Brooklyn neighborhood, photographer Lydia McKenzie enlists friends to pose like the bodies pictured in the book while she shoots the scenes. So it’s not surprising that the first gallery show of her black-and-white deathlike photos is interrupted by detectives investigating the actual murder of one of Lydia’s model friends, her body found displayed just as she was photographed. While Lydia and best friend Georgia—both models for photographs themselves—seek out the murderer, another model’s body is found posed in the same fashion, Lydia is threatened when her apartment is ransacked, and a third model disappears. The pool of suspects is small, since the first murder required inside knowledge of Lydia’s work, and Cole provides a red herring before revealing the actual killer. This won the St. Martin’s Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, and while its intriguing premise will attract readers, its pedestrian prose and the too-predictable unraveling of the plot lessen the book’s impact. --Michele Leber