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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB: A Debutante Dropout Mystery
By Susan McBride
Avon, 2007 ($6.99)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
Attorney Brian Malone is uncomfortable in the Men's Club, but his buddy Matty Karkas wants a lap dance before his wedding, and a lap dance he will have. During the procedure, Brian spots a familiar face - or a familiar something, and follows a scantily dressed dancer backstage, disappearing "like Alice down the rabbit hole."
At the same time, his sweetie Andy McKendricks is cringing at the antics of middle-aged women at a Chippendale show. She was dragged there by the bride-to-be, Eleanor, and Brian's colleague and ex-, Allison Price, who makes sure Andy gets her money's worth, recording the dirty deed on her camera phone.
Andy didn't expect to hear from Brian that night, but she starts to get uneasy as hours go by the following day with no word from him. She has to go solo to the brunch her mother Cissy has arranged for them. Cissy told Andy that she and her new beau, Stephen Howard, have an announcement to make, and Andy really could use Brian's moral support. It's been twelve years since her father died, but Andy is still ambivalent about seeing her mother with someone else.
As the hours and days go by, Andy's mood swings between anger - how could he dump her without a word!, sadness - did she do or say something to drive him away - and abject terror that something bad has happened to him. Brian is true-blue, straight-laced, honest and faithful, no way he would just take off. When even Allie, who was furious that Brian had vanished with some important files, admits this disappearing act is way out of character, Andy knows something must be done. She receives a very disturbing phone call, and then, when she and Allie visit the scene of the disappearance, she gets more disturbing news: the employees of the Men's Club swear that Brian took off with an underdressed stripper improbably named Trayla Trash. Worse yet, the police are also hunting for Brian, and not because he's a missing person.
Andy gathers her posse, consisting of her former nemesis Allie, her socialite mother Cissy, and Stephen, Cissy's gentleman friend, who at least has some usable skills as an ex-Navy man. What happens next is at turns hilarious, suspenseful, and poignant. One of the highlights: Andy finds a creative use for a George Foreman grill.
This is the fourth in McBride's Debutante Dropout series, and it is just as much fun as the previous three.
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