Maggie Needs an Alibi
While my paranormal reading waxes and wanes, romantic suspense has been a steady favorite with me. For some reason, though, I kept starting books and setting them aside this month. I finally happened upon Maggie Needs an Alibi, first in a series from Kasey Michaels. I know Michaels’ writing primarily from her historicals, so I was curious to see what she would do with suspense.
As it turns out, this novel is more a comedic mystery with a dash or several of romance, rather than straight-up romantic suspense. Maggie Kelly is a historical romance author turned historical mystery writer, and the story here centers on her Regency-Era detective and his sidekick coming to life. When Maggie created her gorgeous prima donna of a hero, Alexandre Saint Just, she wasn’t planning on sharing a small apartment with him. But suddenly, there he is.
Sharing tight quarters with a larger than life romantic mystery hero is quite…something. Maggie is a thoroughly modern 21st century woman and she has her fair share of habits that most too-perfect heroines would shun, including smoking. She also lives and talks like more than a few work-from-home folks I’ve encountered in real life so I warmed to her early on. At her best, she is human, imperfect and kind of refreshing. And frankly, the opening scene which shows Maggie buried deep in her writing was fabulous. However, she does at times work too hard to keep the wisecracks coming so her dialogue will likely induce the occasional eye roll.
So, where’s the mystery? Well, Maggie has an ex named Kirk who is frankly kind of a jerk. He broke the heart of her editor, also one of Maggie’s best friends, before womanizing his way around New York and finding his way to Maggie – and then doing more womanizing. He is constantly trying to worm his way back into Maggie’s bed, but she isn’t having any of it. This would normally be just an annoyance, but as it happens, Kirk is Maggie’s publisher so she has to deal with him professionally.
When Kirk comes to dinner at Maggie’s apartment and winds up dead, the game is afoot. Needless to say, Maggie is a prime suspect. She did cook and serve dinner to the deceased not long before his collapse, after all. As the net tightens around Maggie, Saint Just and his friend Sterling are determined to unmask the real culprit. As much as Saint Just may point out that Maggie’s imagination created them and therefore he and Sterling are dependent upon her, it will be obvious to the reader that the characters have completely taken on life of their own. And then there’s the obvious growing attraction between Saint Just and Maggie. This book isn’t properly a romance, but there’s plenty of promising romantic tension here. Given the dynamic between Maggie and the investigating detective in this novel, there may even be a hint of a love triangle developing.
At its best, this book is good fun. Saint Just is the perfect Regency gentleman, and while he may have been quite a catch among the ton, he’s a little out of place in modern-day New York City. Watching him (sort of) adapt while not losing the character Maggie gave him in her novels gives readers more than a few clever moments. At times, some of Saint Just’s antics feel a little contrived, but if you’re in the mood for the slightly campy, this book will suit nicely. A few of the gags involving Maggie’s aspiring actor doorman and Maggie’s reaction to her fans truly made me cringe, but those were the main off-putting notes in an otherwise fun tale.
If you like your mysteries fast-moving, funny and a little bit over the top, you will probably enjoy Maggie Needs an Alibi. My recent reading has tended to dark psychological thrillers and gothic-tinged mysteries, so this fun story was a nice change of pace.