Murder on the Red CarpetMurder on the Red Carpet by Shawn Reilly Simmons is the first book in the “Red Carpet Catering” mystery series. Publisher: Lit Girl Publishing, February 2014

The last thing Arlena Madison and Penelope Sutherland expect to find while searching for their runaway dog is a beautiful young girl buried in the snow on the side of the road. When the police discover that the murdered girl was obsessed with Arlena, an up-and-coming actress, questions arise about possible connections between the victim and the legendary Madison family. Arlena has just been cast as the lead actress in iconic film director Salvatore Marco’s next movie. If she can prove herself as a serious actress, it might just be her ticket out of the cut-rate horror movie world.

Penelope has just gotten her big break, too. Her company, Red Carpet Catering, has booked its first real job on the Marco movie, cooking every meal during filming. She can’t believe her luck, working with the famous director and also with her best friend. But when serious accidents begin threatening the lives of the cast and crew, the whole production is in danger of being shut down.

Detective Joseph Baglioni, a childhood friend of Penelope’s, tracks the killer who lurks among the stars. His search leads him into the world of celebrity stalkers, aggressive paparazzi, crazed fans, and Hollywood deal makers, all with agendas of their own. In a desperate race to catch a killer, he discovers that past mistakes don’t always stay buried and the lies people tell have the power to undo them.

I like it. My love of celebrityism (a word I made up) run rampart in this engaging story that held my attention from beginning to end. We are introduced to Arlena and Penelope who suddenly finds themselves encased in a murder investigation when Penelope finds the body of a young woman near their home who strikingly resembles Arlena. Who is this woman and what is her connection to Arlena?

Finding this connection quickly turned this evenly paced light drama into a page turner because I had to know what was going on. The author did a great job in pulling this story together and I liked how easily it flowed. The author did a great job in keeping me in suspense with the number of suspects and it wasn’t until that “aha” moment, that I knew who the killer was, which surprised me a bit. With a likeable cast of characters and an inside look at the movie industry, this was an equally entertaining and engaging debut and I hope we get to see more of Penelope and Arlena in this enjoyable series.

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