Murder at the Spa
Murder at the Spa by Stefanie Matteson is the first of eight mysteries starring Charlotte Graham, an older actress. It was originally published in 1990 and is now out of print but available digitally through Open Road Media, along with the other seven books in the series.
Charlotte is enlisted by an old friend, cosmetic mogul Paulina Langenberg (think Helena Rubinstein or Estée Lauder), to find out who is trying to sabotage her luxury spa. This was either the best or worst book to read in the tub, since people keep getting killed in the bath at an elite mineral springs resort.
The date of the series can be obvious — as when the wireless state of the “new portable telephone” is gushed over for a paragraph, or considering the overall focus on workouts and health culture — but it’s still fun, nonetheless. Particularly if you are curious about how cosmetics are run as a big business.
Matteson loves her words, but she does a good job setting the stage by describing personalities and settings in copious detail. Charlotte doesn’t solve the mystery all by herself so much as stumble across interesting facts that she passes to the police. This has more the feel of a novel about a sixty-something woman’s journey through the beauty industry than a proper mystery, although people do get killed in passing. Still, I’d read more of Charlotte’s adventures, depending on where she has them, since so much attention is paid to the environment of the murders. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)