Dusted to Death
by Barbara Colley
As the owner of Maid for a Day, Charlotte LaRue has learned that
behind closed doors, everyone's dirty laundry holds a few dark secrets—and in the end, they all come out in the wash...
The city of New Orleans has long been a favorite backdrop for movie producers, and now one of Charlotte's best clients, Bitsy Duhe, is getting in on the action. A big Hollywood studio wants to use Bitsy's gorgeous Victorian house for a movie shoot and they are willing to pay her handsomely for the honor. Bitsy consents, but only after Charlotte agrees to take care of her beloved home during the shoot and keep the place spotless as only Charlotte can.
For Charlotte, the assignment is an exciting change of pace. On the first day, she meets the whole cast and crew, including one of Hollywood's hottest ingénues, Angel Martinique. But Charlotte quickly discovers that Angel's G-rated reputation is nothing like her off-camera, diva-like behavior. Angel, it turns out, is no angel at all ...
Once the shoot begins, Charlotte has a front row seat to all the back stage drama: the director who wants to control his favorite starlet's every move ... the make-up artist whose talents with cosmetics can't hide the mysterious bruises on her face ... the bodyguard who is clashing with everyone on the set ... and Angel's seemingly mild-mannered friend, Nick, whose shy demeanor hides a far more menacing side ...
Despite all the tension, the movie seems to be going well–until Nick is found dead in Angel's dressing room, a bloody letter opener lying just a few feet away. To Charlotte, it seems there is no shortage of suspects. But when the police investigation quickly zeros in on Angel, Charlotte senses there's much more to her story than meets the eye. As Charlotte does a little digging into Angel's past, she comes up with a bit more dirt than she bargained for–enough to put her in the crosshairs of danger if she doesn't watch her step ...
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MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE
As though running a cleaning business weren't a dirty enough job, Charlotte LaRue, New Orleans owner of A-Maid-for-a-Day, has an uncanny knack for stumbling upon murder scenes--and for conducting her own investigations. Dusted to Death begins innocuously enough with a tantalizing job offer for Charlotte. One of her clients has agreed to rent her house out to a movie film production company, and recommended Charlotte's cleaning services to the producers. How could Charlotte resist the opportunity to meet a favorite film star and to work on an actual film set? Indeed, she accepts the job, but her grievous error becomes immediately evident when she witnesses the temper tantrums of prima donna star Angel Martinique and her violent quarrels with her boyfriend, Nick. Things become even messier, though, when Charlotte discovers Nick's bloody body in Angel's dressing room. While Charlotte knows that Angel is no angel, is the young star really devil enough to have done away with vile Nick? Charlotte thinks not, and Angel hires her to prove her innocence.
Colley's "A Maid for a Day" mysteries are always entertaining. Charlotte, a mother and grandmother, is likable and clever, a character one would love to know personally. Her practical perspective on the operations of the world and her intimate knowledge of New Orleans render her an informative tour guide for the armchair sleuth. Also, she's no slouch in the romance department, as indicated by her burgeoning attraction to neighbor Louis. A clean sweep!--Lynne F. Maxwell
The Richmond Times Dispatch blog
Murder at the movies by Jay Strafford
To life's swells, people in the background can seem insignificant — mere shadows who need not be noticed and who certainly don't matter. For the villains in Barbara Colley's mystery series featuring Charlotte LaRue, that's a big mistake.
In "Dusted to Death" (276 pages, Kensington, $22), Charlotte, who's in her early 60s and owns and operates Maid for a Day in New Orleans, the business starts innocently enough: A longtime client, elderly Bitsy Duh¸, calls to say her grand house has been chosen as a movie set, and she wants Charlotte to keep it clean — and to keep an eye on Bitsy's treasures.
Charlotte agrees — the film company will pay her $5,000 for a few days' work — but it's not long before she discovers the body of Nick Franklin, the boyfriend of leading lady (or leading brat) Angel Martinique. Angel is arrested, but Charlotte and Angel's chauffeur, Benny Jackson (an old high school friend of Charlotte's son, Hank) think she's being framed and set out to prove her innocence.
Colley again fashions an intriguing whodunit, but the primary pleasure is, as always in the series, Charlotte herself. She's a mightily appealing character, down to earth with plenty of common sense and integrity. This time out, her personal life takes an interesting turn, too. "Dusted to Death" will have you putting down the broom and picking up the book for a pleasant interlude.
from RT Book Reviews by Barb Anderson
**** (4 stars)
Colley's good, solid mystery leaves the reader wanting more.
from Publishers Weekly
"...Charlotte, a house cleaner's answer to Jessica Fletcher... Charlotte is a sweetie..."
Charlotte, who runs a maid service, is hired to protect a customer's belongings while a Hollywood movie is filmed
in the customer's New Orleans home. But she is shocked by the actors' antics and the ugly side of a Hollywood
production. VERDICT This cozy series (Wash and Die; Scrub-a-Dub Dead) gets better with each book. Colley allows
Charlotte to grow as a character while still telling the delightful mysteries that will appeal to Diane Mott
~ Library Journal
Housekeeper almost gets her clock cleaned when a movie company shoots in her client's Greek Revival home. As owner
of Maid-for-a-Day, Charlotte LaRue (Wash and Die, 2008, etc.) normally has her pick of which jobs to take herself
and which to hand over to her employees. But it's hard to say no to Bitsy Duhe, widow of New Orleans' former mayor
and one of Charlotte's oldest customers. Besides, watching over a movie shoot in Bitsy's mansion sounds like a
piece of cake-and with her handsome neighbor Louis Thibodeaux acting kind of weird, Charlotte won't at all mind
getting a peek at leading man Hunter Lansky. Leading lady Angel Martinique is another story-flighty, fussy and
peremptory. Her tantrums mess up the shooting schedule, her long list of dos and don'ts drive makeup artist Heather
Cortez crazy, and her fights with boyfriend Nick Franklin keep bodyguard Toby Russell busy full time. So soon after
Nick is stabbed to death, the NOPD's Gavin Brown has Angel in cuffs. But her driver Benny Jackson, a childhood
friend of Charlotte's son Hank, thinks she's been set up and begs the cleaner to investigate. Together they drive
down to Angel's hometown, Oakdale, Miss., where they learn enough to cast serious doubt on the star's guilt and
to put Charlotte in serious danger. An eighth straightforward puzzle in which likable amateur sleuth Charlotte
does her level best to straighten up someone else's mess.
~ Kirkus Reviews
This amateur sleuth is terrific
Reader Rating: 5 stars
November 01, 2009:
In New Orleans at sixty-three years of age, Charlotte LaRue still has the energy to perform the work of her business Maid for a Day as she cleans for selected clients who prefer her only. Bitsy Duhe asks Charlotte to watch her Victorian house as well as keeping it clean because a movie company is going to film there. It is a two week gig and she will receive $5000 for this pristine assignment.
One of the movie stars is Angel Martinique who has the reputation of her first name, but as Charlotte quickly learns G-string is apropos rather than the G rating reputation of this Hollywood heater, who away from the lights is a spoiled virago. Charlotte enters a room to find the body of Angel's boyfriend Nick Franklin. She also notices next to the corpse, the letter opener used in a recent Angel scene and later confirmed by the cops as the murder weapon. Angel is arrested but her chauffeur Benny who loves her persuades Charlotte, whom he has heard solved homicides, to help him prove her innocence by finding the real culprit.
This amateur sleuth is terrific due to the Hollywood invasion that leads to an intricately created mystery. The heroine has strong instincts and her work enables her to notice clues in what seems like spotless segues. Fans will enjoy Charlotte cleaning up the crime scene not aware the killer is watching her .
~ Harriet Klausner
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