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Toni Diamond Makeup Mysteries
Written by Nancy WarrenGenre: Mystery, Romantic Comedy
Roberta P.'s Review
This novel reads so airily and smoothly, the pages practically turn themselves. Ms. Warren has a lovely economical style; the prose is not weighted down with characters’ convoluted wonderings and examinations of thoughts. Simple statements and naturally flowing dialogue render the entire work a beautifully crafted cosy [if I understand the correct meaning of that]. I read it in one sitting, uttering an “Ah!” at the end, in regret it was over and pleasure that I had read it.
As a rule, I note any formal-style issues in review—mostly because I’m pedantic and can’t help myself. So . . . Double hyphens rather than em or en dashes, and were inconsistently styled. Some commas missing before names of addressees—[a fictitious example, not taken from the novel!] “Let’s eat Grandma,” rather than “Let’s eat, Grandma.” Lastly—and most importantly considering the overarching storyline—the spelling of “makeup” varied: “makeup”, “make-up”, and “make up”. “Makeover” also was inconsistent, with at least one “make-over”.
But enough of negatives. I enjoyed this novel immensely. I won’t rehash the plot [the blurb covers all that a potential reader needs, and I would regret slipping with a spoiler].
Toni Diamond is a heroine to be admired: smart, independent, funny, flawed, and courageous; a woman who has come from nothing and is intent on building an empire for herself as a cosmetic sales rep. Is makeup frivolous? Yes . . . and no [she writes, hugging her Maybelline Great Lash protectively to her]. Women—and men, for that matter—prefer to put their best face forward; we merely don’t like to brag too much about the machinery of doing that. Ms. Warren’s novel, on the other hand, proudly celebrates that machinery in the over-the-top world of sales reps hawking the fictitious Lady Bianca beauty line as the backdrop to an intriguing murder mystery.
There is a constant sense of colour—the writing is brightly painted with it. Maybe there were a few too many beauty tips tossed into the narrative, but they suited the story . . . and I learned a lot [so thanks, Ms. Warren!]. And at the heart of the novel is a wealth of clever words and nuance, with many hilarious lines—many of which were literal LOL moments—too numerous to list here. The chapter lead-in quotes are excellent in lieu of chapter titles, giving the reader a pithy image of what’s to come. And the climax builds and peaks with precision, wrapping up the novel with no unnecessary lingering—and at the big reveal, I was still a bit unsure who the murderer was.
With glittering fake diamonds and big hair and tongue-in-cheek descriptions of same, Ms. Warren puts an unadorned human face on the cosmetic. And it’s awfully pretty.
Review Disclaimer: Book provided in exchange for an honest review.