Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell

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Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Melony Sanders
Reviewed by Melony Sanders
Summary: Crime fiction with a humorous twist and lots of handbags
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Little Black Dress
ISBN: 978-0755347339

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Haley Randolph has just returned from a trip to Europe at the invitation of her boyfriend, Ty. Unfortunately, Ty has remained behind for work - as the owner/manager of a chain of department stores, he has a lot on his plate. Haley borrows his grandmother's Mercedes to get from the airport back home, but is horrified to find that there is a dead body in the boot of the car. Even worse, Haley knows the dead girl, so she's suspect number one. With her track record, the police are already deeply suspicious of her. Can she find out who the real killer was without attracting too much attention? And, more importantly, will she ever track down the killer 'Sinful' handbag that she's so desperate to own?

Haley Randolph is a self-confessed airhead with little on her mind apart from handbags and her boyfriend, Ty. Her job as a lowly retail assistant for Ty's chain of department stores is something that she regards as a real chore; she would much rather be running her own handbag business. She is studying at college in the hope of improving her job opportunities, but is finding it hard to concentrate - particularly when she is thrown into the middle of a murder investigation and there are so many men either chasing her or running away from her.

There is no great depth to Haley. She lives for instant gratification and isn't going to impress anyone for her investigative skills - she falls over clues rather than finds them. For many, she will be seen as a fluffy bit of nonsense and that would be a fair deduction. Nevertheless, fluffy she certainly is, but she's also quite amusing and makes the book very quick and easy to read. This is the third book in the series, and although I wouldn't go out of my way to track down the first two books in the series, I certainly wouldn't turn them down if I came across them.

Anyone who has read Janet Evanovich's [Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich|Stephanie Plum]] series will see some similarities here; most notably in that it is crime fiction with a distinctly humorous twist. However, Haley is no Stephanie Plum. Haley just doesn't have that much about her and it is hard to imagine Stephanie caring very much about whether her handbag matched her outfit. The best thing to do when reading Shoulder Bags and Shootings is to forget about comparing it with any of the Stephanie Plum series, because it will almost certainly will disappoint.

Nevertheless, the book is amusing in a gentle way, and it is ideal for anyone who wants a really light read. It is part of the 'Little Black Dress' series, which aims to "provide sassy, entertaining and romantic fiction to the young women’s market", so anyone expecting a serious, thought-provoking read is way off the mark. It is probably going to be most applicable to the late teens, early twenties market, although older women may enjoy it if wanting something that needs little concentration. It is unlikely to appeal to many men - or at least, not many that will admit it!

The writing style is extremely simple and very youthful. At times, the author's consistent use of 'oh, crap' to finish off most chapters becomes a little tedious, at least to this older reader. The first few times are amusing though. It almost feels as though the author has a problem with attention, because the story leaps from situation to situation without resolving them. In the end, it all comes together to make sense, but it is a bit of a rollercoaster ride to get there.

If you like modern crime fiction with a humorous twist, are young, and happen to have a penchant for handbags, you are probably going to enjoy this book - there isn't much to dislike about it anyway. If you don't fulfil that demographic, it's worth a go if you want something very light and don't mind something with 'oh, crap' littered throughout. On the other hand, if you want something less young and fluffy, you should go for something that isn't in the Little Black Dress series. Three stars out of five.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you enjoy this type of fiction, you will also like A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer or Blood Is The New Black by Valerie Stivers.

Buy Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell at

Buy Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shoulder Bags and Shootings by Dorothy Howell at


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