Book Review: Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon

Peter Pan Must DiePeter Pan Must Die
John Verdon
Crown Publishers, July 2014
ISBN 978-0-385-34840-9

This is the fourth entry in the series featuring retired NYPD detective David Gurney who, according to New York magazine, is “the most successful homicide dick in the history of the Big Apple.” Now in his late 40’s, he and his second wife, Madeleine, live on an old farmhouse in the rural Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, leaving New York City three years earlier (“the city where they’d both been born, raised, educated, and employed”) after 25 years on the job. Dave has agreed to help out his old friend, Jack Hardwick, with whom he has a long and somewhat fraught history: Jack had had a ‘forced departure” from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation after a difficult case they had worked on together. (Hardwick is described as having “a sharp mind and sound investigative instincts . . . concealed behind a relentless eagerness to offend.”)

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Book Review: Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance

Spies and PrejudiceSpies and Prejudice
Talia Vance
Egmont USA, June 2013
ISBN 978-1-60684-260-7

From the publisher—

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.
But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?


Talia Vance just may be a genius of sorts. There were all kinds of things in Spies and Prejudice that niggled at me but, when it came down to it, I had a blast reading this and that’s why I think the author might qualify as a genius. So, let me get the negatives out of the way first and then I’ll tell you why I still loved this book.

I couldn’t figure out why Mr. Moss would get so upset just because he catches Berry and Tanner kissing. It’s unbelievable that Mary Chris and Jason set Berry up on a date with Tanner when they know she’s not comfortable with him. I don’t get why toppling stacks of soft drink crates would stop anyone from selling them since the bottles are plastic and unbroken. Berry is driven by the need to find out the truth about her mother’s death but, when she does find out, she sort of dusts off her hands and moves on. The resolution to the mystery is pretty lame.

There, that’s it. On the surface, one or more of my objections would seem to be pretty significant but—and here’s where Ms. Vance’s ability to write comes in—none of them matter a whit because I fell in love with Berry and her friends and their approach to solving her mom’s death. Even the romance didn’t get under my skin as it usually does because it was entertaining and nobody was unduly obsessed. I like that Berry works for her dad as a private investigator and is quite successful at it.

Berry Fields is smart and pretty (but the pretty part never takes precedence) and has a silly name and the adorable Mary Chris is a wonderful best friend, the kind every girl should have. They hang out with a pretty cool collection of guys, too, Jason being my favorite even though he’s not the heartthrob.

The mystery and how the teens go about investigating is fun if entirely improbable and the spy tactics and gizmos are amusing. That said, this is not all happy endings. Berry learns some harsh lessons, primarily that you what you wish for is not always what you really want. Still, this mashup of Veronica Mars and Pride and Prejudice is perfect for any reader looking for an entertaining mystery, niggles or not.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.