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What’s a Girl Gotta Do?
Sparkle Hayter

What’s a Girl Gotta Do?
Sparkle Hayter
No Exit Press
Harpenden 1997

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It’s called What’s a Girl Gotta Do? The author is called Sparkle. The heroine describes herself in the first paragraph as a ‘dame’. The jacket says it’s ‘wacky’. To be honest I dreaded picking this book up, but when I got started I didn’t put it down again until I’d finished it.

Robin Hudson is a ‘slightly rumpled third-string reporter in Rita Hayworth’s body’, working on a trashy TV show, recently dumped by her husband for a much younger woman. A bizarre sequence of events involving a fancy dress party, a tire iron and an anonymous blackmailer lead to her arrest on suspicion of a brutal murder. Armed only with an Epilady and a perfume atomizer spiked with cayenne pepper, Robin sets out to clear her name and catch the killer.

Sharp, witty and fast-paced from the first page, this is an undemanding but thoroughly enjoyable read. There are times when the book gives up its secrets a little too easily: incidents that are alluded to mysteriously are fully explained five minutes later. The suspense could have been drawn out for longer, but it’s a small point. As the plot develops you find yourself turning the pages as intrigued with the developments in Robin’s personal life as in whodunnit. With her disastrous love life, hardboiled streetsmart narration and seamy scenarios Robin Hudson reads like a US Bridget Jones meets Raymond Chandler on the pages of the National Enquirer.

Reviewed by Pippa Wright


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