SECRET AFFAIRS, hunky gardeners, and housewives desperate enough to bare it all… welcome to Magnolia Lane, TV’s hottest new prime time show. A place where L.A. shoe designer Maddie Springer should be in fashion heaven. That is until the body of a rising young starlet is found dead on the show’s set. Now it’s up to Maddie to sift through a leading lady with a secret, an actor on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a sexy cyber scandal, and one tabloid reporter who’ll stop at nothing to get the story of the century. Not to mention Maddie’s hot-cold relationship with the case’s familiar lead detective, Jack Ramirez. In a world where secrets, lies, and deception can earn you an Oscar, Maddie plays the role of a lifetime to catch Hollywood’s hottest killer. But if she doesn’t watch her step, Maddie’s fifteen minutes of fame just may be her last.
The novel starts with Dana and Maddie watching Magnolia Lane, the famous primetime daily. And Ramirez calls to cancel their date. Yet again. He gives a vague ‘something came up’ and that he has to be some club. That’s it. ‘The dumb blonde’ as Maddie calls herself time and again in the novel, gets into a fizzy. She suspects of being dumped and immediately goes to the club to find out what the fuss was all about. When she sees Ramirez with another woman at the club, her suspicions are confirmed. She couldn’t stop herself and starts what she does best, over-acting, hyper-ventilating, babbling incoherently. And it turns out Ramirez was with an informant who gets scared when Maddie enters the scene and takes Maddie as a hostage to escape from the club.
Ramirez is instantly demoted by his superiors because of the ‘crazed shoe girl’ and he is reassigned as a bodyguard for a celebrity. When he reaches Maddie’s place to tell her the same, she is suddenly very excited that he would be meeting the celebrities and going to Emmy’s. Yeah, she is really crazy.
And that celebrity turns out to be none other than Mia who plays the lead character Ashley in Magnolia Lane. She has been receiving death threats through fan-mail and she was really worried about it.
Maddie decides that the best way to make it up to Ramirez would be by helping him solve this case. So, although he had warned her to stay away from the sets, Dana and Maddie land themselves jobs at the Magnolia Lane sets. And on the very second day of their job, there is a death. Apparently, the target was Mia but Veronica, the stand-in for Mia, else was killed. Everyone thought that the killer might have mistaken Veronica for Mia.
Thus, the investigations begin. Maddie goes to Veronica’s place only to find Jasmine there. (The receptionist where Maddie’s ex-boyfriend Richard worked and Maddie turned an amateur investigator in Spying In High Heels when Richard went missing!) Jasmine has now become a millionaire thanks to her online pornography business. She learns that Veronica has been working for Jasmine and that she was on some shady business on the sets.
Maddie is convinced that the criminal is someone from the staff itself, because there is noway that others could gain access to the sets. Thus she goes on investigating, questioning and snooping around the cast of the Magnolia Lane. She keeps eliminating people one by one but she isn’t really sure whether everyone was being frank or were just putting up an act. And Mia, thanks to her starry tantrums, has enough people who hated her and want her away for good.
Also, someone has been following Maddie too. And no, this time it is not Felix, the reporter. Someone with evil intentions. Her place gets ransacked, she gets chased and her jeep gets hit while she was in it. She also gets couriers threatening to kill her.
With the turn of events, she hatches a plan to nail the criminal. She offers to hide in one of the trailers (or ‘snoop’) to know if someone is roaming around the sets late night. But, before she could see anyone, suddenly the criminal has Maddie by the throat who is left gasping for breath and struggling for survival.
Who has been sending death-threats to Mia? Was Veronica’s death an accident or deliberate? Was Maddie’s stalker someone from the sets or somebody else? Who was the killer? Answers to these and some more of such questions forms the rest of the story.
The most annoying aspect of this novel has to be the re-introduction of all the characters. It is just Ctrl+C and Ctrl + V as there is not a single change. All the characters from the very first novel are again introduced. Most of the introductions were not needed or at least Gemma should have changed the style of introduction.
The writing is terribly trite. Most of the actions, talks, words, reactions are repeated time and again in the novel. And most were repeated in the first two installments too, annoying the readers some more.
The dumb blonde is no longer funny. Her outrageous heights of stupidity was funny in the first two installments, but turns annoying and irritating here. In one scene, where a homicide cop is questioning Maddie about her relationship with the victim, Maddie goes on blabbering incoherently looking at Ramirez and counter-questions every question posed by the cop, to annoy the cop and the readers alike.
While the best thing about the series was humor and the first two installments scored heavily on that, this book totally fails at that. In fact, the novel seems uninteresting until the second murder takes place. It seems that Gemma is just prolonging the novel, just like she did the other two, for the heck of it, and it takes way too much time for the actual plot to settle in.
As an independent read, one may still like it and find it funny. But, in comparison to the other two, this one pales off.