Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Bad Day for Pretty - Sophie Littlefield

A Bad Day for Pretty is the second novel by Sophie Littlefield featuring Stella Hardesty.

In the first book, A Bad Day for Sorry, having dispatched her abusive husband to the great hereafter, Stella decides she will become a force of justice for wronged women.

"When the courts failed, when the restraining order didn't manage to restrain anything , when the man who promised he'd never do it again at ten o'clock forgot his promise by midnight. When a beaten woman finally picked herself up the floor and washed off the blood and took inventory of the latest bruises and something snapped and she decided this time was the last time - when the day came, she knew where to go, and and to see: Stella was ready for the job."

Stella is fifty something, a bit rough around the edges, but with a heart of gold and a soft spot for the underdog. She has taken over the sewing shop her husband ran and is making a new life for herself in Prosper, Missouri. When a tornado uncovers a body beneath the snack shack at the demolition derby track, everything points to local handyman Neb. But Neb and his wife are friends and Stella know he couldn't have done it. To make matters worse, the wife of the local sheriff (who Stella thought was single) has come back to town to claim her man. She manages to stir up a heap of trouble at the same time.

Littlefield has created quite the colourful character in Stella. I loved her turns of phrase and outlook on life.

"Still - cosmetics - an industry she had supported as enthusiastically as anyone in her young years - had certainly changed in the last decade or so while her attention had been elsewhere, and reentry was proving a little more difficult than she'd expected."

The descriptions of small town life and the town smack of realism. (and somewhat remind me of my own small town!) Littlefield herself grew up in rural Missouri.

The mystery isn't what overly drives this series. Instead it is Stella herself who is the draw. She is imminently likable and you can't help but admire her feistiness. She's someone you'd like to sit at the kitchen table with and shoot the breeze. Although the cover mentions this is a crime novel, it's certainly not a serious one. I was somewhat reminded of an older, slightly more violent Stephanie Plum. The supporting character cast is filled with offbeat and eclectic personalities. I think I have a soft spot for Jelloman!

I have not read the first book in this series and felt slightly out of the loop not knowing quite what had gone on before. But I did enjoy this light hearted read. Number three is written and Littlefield is working on the fourth.


Kay said...

I'm looking forward to reading this series. I've heard good things especially about the first book.

Mystica said...

The series sound intriguing so I think I'd look for the first book.

Anil P said...

The first time I've heard of this series. From your review I think it might strike a chord among readers back here.

jenny wilson said...

never heard of this series-will have to check it outx

Ladytink_534 said...

I'll have to recommend this to my mom! I love your Stephanie Plum comparison lol.

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see this is good, because I just love the cover!