Book Review: Malicious Mischief by Marianne Harden

Rylie Keyes dreams of becoming a private investigator as she chauffeurs senior citizens around town in her latest job. Little did she know that she’d get a shot at that life when a resident of the local nursing home is found dead in the back of her company van. As she scrambles to solve the case before her disapproving grandfather returns to town, her focus is tested with the attentions of two very attractive police officers.

I’m not sure I would have picked up this book on my own since it’s nowhere near the more police procedural mysteries I normally read. But after reviewing Act Like You Love Me for Entangled Publishing, I have kept an eye out for other books they’re offering for review. I’m really glad that I signed up to review this one.

Malicious Mischief is advertised as a romance with some mystery. I think that’s a bit misleading. The mystery and Rylie’s journey to realizing her dream of becoming a PI make up the main plot of the book. If anything, the romance–and the love triangle–is a subplot. Plus the mystery is far more engaging than either of the romantic interests.

The majority of the characters really made this book a page turner for me. Rylie is spunky, unsure, and wants to do the right thing. She seems like the kind of young woman that might live in a small town anywhere in the country. Her sidekick/partner-in-crime, Solo, is a fascinating Samoan who gave up a prospective career in the NFL for the opportunity to perform in a circus on his motorbike. The love interests actually felt like the weakest characters because they weren’t all that unique. They are perfect examples of the stereotypes of the tortured-loner-needing-to-be-fixed and the sexy-foreigner.

As for the mystery, I didn’t see the ending coming. It was a pleasant surprise to see how everything unfolded. The author also left several threads dangling, and I have a feeling they will be addressed when the sequel comes out next May.

My biggest complaint about the book was the lack of police professionalism in a scene at the beginning of the novel. I understand that because Rylie’s grandfather was a police detective, some of the normal rules are relaxed a few fractions for her. But the first love interest arrives at the scene of a major car accident and begins flirting with Rylie after checking that she’s okay. I could see how that might show the closeness of their relationship. However in the first pages of the book, when the reader knows nothing about him, that lack of professionalism didn’t exactly make him an endearing character. I’d expect a police officer that I’ve known most of my life to still get me away from the wrecked cars, have me sit down, and check to make sure I don’t have any injuries. Maybe that’s just me.

So overall, Malicious Mischief was a pretty good read. The mystery made up for the shortcomings in the romance story line, and the characters are engaging. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the sequel when it comes out.

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