Pretty as a Picture

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Pretty as a Picture was one of WSJ reviewer Tom Nolan's picks for his list of best 2020 mystery novels. I've had mixed success with these, but this one was a winner.

It's narrated by Marissa, a movie editor by occupation. She's a very appealing character with some minor psychological quirks, like some mild OCD involving bedtime rituals. And she has Sherlockian deduction skills, as long as those are relevant to moviemaking. She has problems establishing meaningful relationships. And she's given to hilarious observations of others and self-deprecating observations of her own foibles.

Her résumé is filled with arty films done in collaboration with her friend/roomie Amy. But (for good reason) she's looking to break away from Amy, so she goes to a mysterious interview for a new gig. Which turns out to be a sorta-true-crime movie set on a resort island off the Delaware coast, the scene of a long-ago (apparent) murder. And, yep, that's where they're making the movie. And the film's oddball director, Tony Rees, demands that Marissa be on location. (He's fired his previous editor, for mysterious reasons.)

I said "oddball director", but I repeat myself. The entire cast and crew are various flavors of oddball. As are the island inhabitants. Most notably Billy, who everyone considers the most likely suspect for that death. But that's too easy, isn't it? But also notably: Grace and Suzy, two teenage girls who are smart beyond their years, also hiliarious.

If Elizabeth Little writes more adventures featuring Marissa, I'm there.

Last Modified 2024-01-20 5:21 AM EDT