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Death by beauty by Gabrielle Lord

Death by beauty

by Gabrielle Lord

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Other Australian female authors in the past, Kerry Greenwood and Jennifer Rowe to name a couple, have set their murder mysteries around a beauty farm. So what Gabrielle Lord is doing in a sense is giving it a modern take - treatments implementing DNA and modern surgery techniques.

Add too a couple of extra elements - beautiful girls being drugged by a vampire - their memories ensuring no-one will believe them, thinking they are drug-induced; and a young woman returning to work with a young child to care for.

Gemma Lincoln has this idea that she will be able to slowly re-immerse herself in her investigative work, but the nature of her job, and Gemma's own character, ensure that a slow resumption is just not an option. Young mothers reading DEATH BY BEAUTY will find themselves wishing that they had all the backup resources that Gemma has. Add to that the fact that Gemma is living with a man who is not the baby's father, and things become complicated.

Gabrielle Lord has been occupying her time with writing YA thrillers and this is the first Gemma Lincoln novel for 5 years. It shows that Lord has not lost the touch and kept up with the times. I didn't like Gemma Lincoln any the more for it - but that is probably just the way she strikes me.

The story is a chilling one about how much money there is in the industry of helping women retain their beauty and even making them look 10 years younger. ( )
  smik | Mar 21, 2014 |
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.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/death-beauty-gabrielle-lord ( )
  austcrimefiction | Sep 3, 2012 |
It’s been 5 years since the last Gemma Lincoln novel, I can only assume Gabrielle Lord has been too busy with her Conspiracy 365 series in the interim.

In terms of this series it has been about 18 months or so since the end of Shattered and Gemma is supposed to be easing back into her work as a private investigator after the birth of Raphael (Rafi). But Gemma’s first client confesses she is terrified of her husband and believes he is planning to kill her, her best friend, Detective Sergeant Angie McDonald asks Gemma to speak with a woman who was drugged and attacked by a man pretending to be a vampire and she receives an excited call from a acquaintance, a journalist named Janet Chancy, who is on her way to Gemma’s with big news but never shows up. Lord weaves a handful of seemingly unrelated cases into a narrative that centers around Sapphire Springs, an exclusive day spa, that has developed a cutting edge cosmetic surgery procedure.
To be honest the links between each case are fairly transparent early on in the novel though it takes a lot longer for Gemma to put the pieces together. Thankfully, there are elements of the plot that are unexpected which partially redeems the lack of subtlety and too convenient conspiracy. The concept of the story is interesting and the pace is good, though nearly 400 pages, it was a quick read for me.

While Gemma has a history of being feisty and impulsive, her behaviour in Death By Beauty is almost reckless and there were facets of Gemma’s investigation that I did not see as credible. Her investigations are a little sloppy, such as when she connects with Tolmacheff by answering his online dating ad but does little to protect her real identity, as well as breaking into the cabin at Sapphire Springs without considering camera surveillance. Gemma also fails to take serious precautions even when she suspects someone has been watching her home and makes herself a target when she confronts her bitter enemy, Lorraine Litchfield.

Part of her careless behaviour can perhaps be blamed on her current state of emotional turmoil. Mike, Gemma’s partner, is unhappy about her becoming caught up in so many investigations, especially when one of those cases links to Steve, her ex-lover and Rafi’s biological father. Gemma can’t let go of her connection to Steve which threatens not only her relationship with Mike, but also her life, and the life of her son. As Gemma assesses her feelings for Steve, she ignores Mike’s proposal and his attempts to discuss their living arrangements. On top of which, Hugo turns up needing a place to stay placing further strain on Mike and Gemma’s relationship.

I am glad that Gabrielle Lord has revisited Gemma Lincoln with Death By Beauty and the conclusion suggests that she still hasn’t quite finished with the series and with the reprint of the entire series this month, I suggest those new to it start with the first book Feeding The Demons. Though not without flaws, Death By Beauty is a page turner and sure to be enjoyed by fans. ( )
  shelleyraec | Aug 31, 2012 |
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A young woman is attacked, she claims, by a vampire. Two more are found dead and hideously disfigured. A journalist goes missing and it's up to Gemma Lincoln, PI, to find out what is going on. In her first week back on the job after maternity leave, finding a balance between investigating brutal crimes, caring for baby Rafi and making time for herself and Mike is all too much. Something has to give, but not while a third woman's life is in danger.… (more)

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