Few things are as endlessly entertaining as depictions of Philadelphia in pop culture, which is why we're launching The 19102 Review, a new column devoted to Philly books.
Little Black Book of Murder
Mystery, 2013, Obsidian, 372 pp.
Not even in the lip-gloss-coated world of chick lit are newspapers permitted to thrive. So, in the ninth installment of Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters series, Little Black Book of Murder (just released Aug. 6), society columnist Nora Blackbird is scrambling to save her job at a recession-ravaged Philadelphia Intelligencer.
It’s just about the only believable aspect of this sequel, which is weighed down with the baggage of eight volumes (and a prequel!) worth of exposition. Among the oddities Martin has to rush to explain: Nora’s gracious poverty (her parents absconded to South America with her trust fund but left behind a fabulous collection of haute couture); her live-in Mafioso pseudo-husband (she’s afraid to actually marry him, lest he die of the “Blackbird curse”); and her challenging relationship with Gus, her sexy new Australian editor who looks at her like “a tasty hors d’oeuvre fresh off the barbie.”
Wade through all that (and the mandatory scullery sex that takes place within the first few chapters) and you get to the plot: a murder mystery involving a fashion designer, a genetically engineered pig, a scheming chef, a serial-killer wife and a talent-agent scammer. The cast of mobsters, fashionistas, Bucks County blue bloods and hard-up newspaper hacks keep things moving as Nora and Gus try to track down the murderer and drive up web traffic. But the revelations at the end are more shrug- than gasp-inducing.
Of course, Martin has her fans. If you’ve read the previous volumes, you know what you’re in for. If you haven’t, there’s no need to start now.
If you have a book that'd be perfect for The 19102 Review (the dustier, the better), email ten.repapytic@gylime, or just drop it in the mail it to Emily Guendelsberger at Philadelphia City Paper, 30 S. 15th St., 14th floor, 19102.
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