After a four year hiatus fans of Gabrielle Lord's Gemma Lincoln will be very pleased to see DEATH BY BEAUTY hit the shelves. Set about 18 months after the last in the series - SHATTERED - DEATH BY BEAUTY sees Private Investigator Gemma Lincoln easing herself back into work after the birth of her son. Her personal life has gotten complicated as she lives with Mike, who isn't Rafi's father, whilst ex-lover and Rafi's biological father Steve has initially slipped from view.
Gemma's first case back sees her looking into the suspect behaviour of the husband of a very wealthy woman who believes he may be planning her murder. At the same time Gemma's asked by best friend, DS Angie McDonald to look into the story of a woman who claims she was drugged and bitten / attacked by a vampire. An excited telephone call from an exclusive day spa, increasingly famous for its controversial cutting edge cosmetic surgery procedures, leads to friend and journalist Janet Chancy, disappear twixt spa and spilling the news to Gemma. Very quickly all roads lead to Sapphire Springs. Very well lit, airport runway standard lit roads just in case the reader had any doubts.
DEATH BY BEAUTY does concentrate a lot on Gemma's personal life - her love for her young son, her relationship with Mike, her past with Steve. There's a hefty amount of the complications of children and working, which comes dangerously close to overwhelming the plot at points. A plot which is already relying on a lot of convenient factors. Whilst it's normally a given that some if not all of the threads of a complicated plot are going to veer somewhere in the same direction, in DEATH BY BEAUTY not only is it telegraphed pretty obviously, it's all supported by an all too convenient conspiracy. Whilst there definitely does appear to be some solid scientific research and information behind some elements, there is a lot of action and interaction that is a little too unbelievable. There's also the problem of why a private investigator, struggling with a work / life balance, is suddenly working a police case. It may be that there was a reason for that, but to be frank, it didn't stick in my head.
I'd guess that this is going to be a book in which reader's who empathise with Gemma are going to get a lot more enjoyment from it. Whilst she's always been a bit impulsive in DEATH BY BEAUTY, there's so much of Gemma's investigation that was again, unbelievable, so many clues delivered and yet ignored, so much motivation that just didn't seem to make a lot of sense, that the personal elements really started to get in the road. Either way, I never quite bought a possible emotional turmoil excuse as it seemed to me that the answer to the obvious question being asked - solid, supportive, kind, good bloke Mike or wild, dangerous, bad bloke Steve - was heading into pretty predictable territory
Ultimately this is another book that I'm going to fully expect fans of the series to love, not just because four years is a long time to wait for an outing with a favourite set of characters. It's certainly a page turner, and whilst the action's not always believable it's certainly well-paced and tautly delivered.