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The Hungry Detective is a series reader. There are boat loads of books I have not been able to read because the latest is book eight, and I have yet to read even book one. It is all about progress. The character is built up over those books and this shape informs the larger story which creates a larger sense of character. One big circle. So I read A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY by Sophie Littlefield. Book 2 in this recent series without bothering to read her well received first opus A BAD DAY FOR SORRY. The shackles of not beginning at the beginning stayed with me through out  PRETTY. It mattered little but tainted the overall effect. Primarily because the frame for Ms. Littlefield's books are enticing. I want to know what happened before.

Stella Hardesty owns a sewing shop by day and redistributes the inequity of male-female relationships by night. After years spent in an abusive relationship where her husband ended up dead by her own hand, never again will Stella allow a man to inflict their cowardly ways on women. It's  hard not to like a book like A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY. Stella is a winning creation. If you can't root for a character who has found the wherewithal to actual stand up for herself and what she believes in then I don't want to know you. She is the embodiment of wish fulfillment for every reader. Who doesn't want the quiet determination, minus the violent mayhem, of Stella?

It is only just the tiniest bit of a shame that this wonderful creation is not in a better story. The through line of A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY concerns the discovery a dead woman in the foundation of a snack shack near the demolition derby track after a tornado. And while I am certainly willing to give points for creative burial location, the crime story meanders around unwilling to commit to anything more than Stella having a few conversations with that right people at the right time. And even then the person Stella is talking to seems to know there is not much interest in any real mystery or misleading subterfuge. They trip over themselves to blurt out the who's, the how's and the what for's without much arm twisting.

What does work here is Stella Hardesty. To know her is to hopefully not be maimed or murdered by her. I'm not looking for a story with a grand cabal, but a little more attention to story, along with the wonderfully drawn characters, would have boosted A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY to something really special.


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