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Faked to Death: A Simon Kirby-Jones Mystery    by Dean James order for
Faked to Death
by Dean James
Order:  USA  Can
Kensington, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Faked to Death is James's second entry in his series starring Simon Kirby-Jones, an American ex-patriot who has relocated to a charmingly picturesque English village. Simon is a respected historian and author of scholarly works. He is also profitable and successful romance writer Daphne Deepwood, and mystery writer Dorinda Darlington. The latter fact is known only to his gorgeous secretary, Sir Giles Blitherington, and to his rapacious agent, Nina Yaknova. However, even they are not privy to Simon's deepest, darkest secret: Simon is a vampire.

In this rollicking outing, Simon agrees to take part in Lady Hermione Kinsale's prestigious writers' workshop. A shameless snob, Simon envisions a pleasant week rubbing elbows with the high and mighty, as well as fellow successful authors, and benevolently dispensing wisdom to respectful would-be writers. As too often happens, his rosy dream founders on reality. His fellow authors have brought along emotional baggage as well as more conventional luggage. Worst of all, he meets Dorinda Darlington!

The imposter is abrasive and insulting. Simon bides his time, partly because he is unwilling to expose his identity as Darlington, and partly because he confidently expects his agent's arrival to expose the fraud. Alas, Nina plays coy when she arrives, and Simon begins to wonder if she is somehow involved. The false Darlington manages to offend many, leaving several suspects when she is found murdered. Simon, always curious, bestirs himself to find the culprit, a task made easier by his enhanced vampiric abilities. He finds a positive morass of deep dark secrets, including blackmail on Nina's part. All this sleuthing by no means prevents him from flirting with attractive Detective-Inspector Chase and with his own secretary.

Faked to Death is a very successful and even more entertaining follow-up to Posted to Death, which introduced Simon Kirby-Jones. Now that one knows the players, it is fun to sit back and see how they behave, especially in the piquant situation into which the author throws them.

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