They say a life well-lived is the best revenge…
Blanche Tucker longs to escape her drop-dead dull life in tiny Boynton, Oklahoma. Then dashing Graham Peyton roars into town. Posing as a film producer, Graham convinces the ambitious but naive teenager to run away with him to a glamorous new life. Instead, Graham uses her as cruelly as a silent picture villain. Yet by luck and by pluck, taking charge of her life, she makes it to Hollywood.
Six years later, Blanche has transformed into the celebrated Bianca LaBelle, the reclusive star of a series of adventure films, and Peyton's remains are discovered on a Santa Monica beach. Is there a connection? With all of the twists and turns of a 1920s melodrama, The Wrong Girl follows the daring exploits of a girl who chases her dream from the farm to old Hollywood, while showing just how risky—and rewarding—it can be to go off script.
Set mostly in Hollywood in 1926, this predictable series launch from Casey (the Alafair Tucker mysteries) introduces actor Bianca LaBelle, whose motion pictures about Bianca Dangereuse, "a Nelly Bly type journalist and adventurer" are "the biggest money-making movie franchise in the entire Western world." Bianca feels threatened after a private detective visits her at her Beverly Hills mansion to inquire about Graham Peyton, who went missing in 1921 and whose remains surfaced a week earlier on a Santa Monica beach. Bianca knows too much about Graham, who lured her to Hollywood with promises of stardom in 1920 when she was 15-year-old Blanche Tucker living in Boynton, Okla., but then sold her to a pimp from whom she later escaped. Despite the plot points of con men preying on young women, sexual abuse, ruthless mobsters, and drugs, the danger is as nonmenacing as that in Bianca's Perils of Pauline esque flicks. All that's missing from this melodrama is a mustache-twirling villain. Nevertheless, Casey's portrait of how stars were born and kept their status during Hollywood's silent era will intrigue film buffs.
Solid mystery book!
~Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!~
1.5 stars docked off because the storytelling of The Wrong Girl just wasn’t for me, and though I did like reading it I won’t be reading the next book if the storytelling is in the same or a similar style.
The book started off slow, and it wasn’t until a few chapters in that it started to pick up. The detective in this book, Ted Oliver, also took much more of a minor role in this book, which is largely the reason for my rating. I was just more interested in the detective himself than whatever was going on with Blanche/Bianca.
Of all the characters and chapters, I liked detective Ted Oliver’s the most, as it gave us a look into the investigation and was where the mysterious tone of the book came in. When it came to Blanche/Bianca’s chapters, however, the tone was different, sometimes boring, but I loved the support that was shared between Blanche/Bianca, Mrs. Gilbert, and Alma Bolding.
As for the mystery of Graham Peyton’s death, I thought it was okay. I wasn’t surprised when I found out who was responsible or when a few secrets were revealed. I don’t think it was even supposed to be a hard guess of who was responsible for his death, but I wasn’t dying to know what exactly happened to Peyton. The only thing that did surprise me was the twist that came in a later chapter of the book. I loved this twist and hadn’t guessed it at all!
For anyone who doesn’t mind seeing less of the detective and more of the other characters in flashbacks, I would highly recommend The Wrong Girl! The setting of this book is wonderful, from the slang to Donis Casey’s description of the fashion and movies at the time, and it’s a solid mystery book altogether that doesn’t get ridiculous and answers questions in a believable way.