February 16, 2012

SVH Super Thriller, Murder in Paradise: A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 9:17 pm by Jenn

Was this cover supposed to attract male readers or something?

Summary: Alice wins a week at the Paradise Spa for seven people, so she takes the twins, Enid, Lila, and Lila’s mother Grace. Enid’s mom has to stay behind for work, so the mother-daughter trip is really mother-daughter-motherless Enid. To make things worse for Enid, she’s feeling particularly unconfident next to all the pretty people who work at the spa. And to make things doubly worse, the guy Elizabeth tries to set her up with prefers Jessica.

Oh, yeah, of course there are guys. Elizabeth and Jessica both find a spa employee named Chris hot; Jessica thinks he’s interested in her, but he really likes Liz. Jessica moves on to Chris’ friend Alex, and though the two guys hang out with all four girls, Enid still feels left out. Elizabeth has also connected with an employee named Katya, who’s kind of touchy on the subject of her mother.

Enid starts doing beauty treatments with Tatiana, the woman who runs the spa. Tatiana has a scar on her face and an unhealthy obsession with talking about how beautiful the Wakefields are. Also, she totally brainwashes Enid and makes her want plastic surgery. Katya leads some spa guests on a hike and they end up at a white building that the employees are all mysterious about. When Tatiana learns of the trek, she yells at Katya. The next day, Katya’s dead.

Tatiana claims that Katya had a heart condition and being in the steam room killed her. She has no family, so they can’t get in touch with them, even though Alice had encouraged her to contact her mother and Katya hadn’t said anything about her mother not being around. Elizabeth starts snooping – er, investigating – and finds an ad in Katya’s possessions that shows she found out about her spa job through a publication for runaways. It turns out all the teens who work at the spa are runaways, including Chris and Alex. They also don’t get paid for their work.

During a trip to a waterfall, Alice disappears. The twins freak and try to call Ned, but the phones aren’t working. Liz uses her laptop and emails Ned while Jessica snoops in Tatiana’s office and finds a yearbook from Alice’s senior year at SVU – except Alice’s picture has been cut out of it. (Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.) As Elizabeth figures out that Enid’s being conditioned for plastic surgery, Jess finds out that all of the spa employees have had their appearances enhanced since they started working there.

Elizabeth goes out looking for Alice, and even though it’s dark and dangerous, Grace, the only adult left, is all, “Don’t get killed. See ya!” Thanks for playing, Grace. Jessica then tells Lila and Grace about all the plastic surgery and stuff. She gets an email Ned sent back to Liz saying that he remembers Tatiana as an SVU classmate who had a girl crush on Alice. Jessica manages to put together that Tatiana, a surgeon, wants to make herself look like Alice. Meanwhile, Elizabeth returns to the place of Alice’s disappearance, where Chris, clearly brainwashed, pulls her into a cave, then takes her to Tatiana.

The whole story eventually comes out: Tatiana trained her assistant to perform plastic surgery so she can make Tatiana look like Alice. Then they’ll kill Alice because twins are bad, or something. Jessica, Lila, and Enid arrive to save the day, and Enid’s brainwashing proves to be as weak as Tatiana’s villainy, so she overtakes her brainwasher. She also in effect brings down the spa, leading all the employees to have a “ding dong, the witch is dead” moment. She probably still feels ugly, though.

Thoughts: Elizabeth, you don’t have “the instinct of a journalist.” You’re just nosy.

I don’t think I could handle being friends with someone as insecure as Enid for more than five minutes. Shut up, Enid.

Elizabeth just worked things out with Todd after the Ken fiasco, and she’s hooking up with another guy. Todd, believe it or not, you actually deserve better.

Funny how Lila thinks Jessica is crazy for falling for a groundskeeper – Lila strikes me as exactly the kind of person who would sleep with her hot gardener.

A book with “murder” in the title shouldn’t take 128 pages to get to that murder.

“After dialing Olivia Davidson’s E-mail address….” Oh, 1995, you’re so cute.


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