Title: The Girl in Gold
Series: Vox Swift #2
Author: Beth Lyons
Genre: Lesbian Urban Fantasy
Vox Swift returns for a second mystery. This time Vox stumbles upon the body of a strange girl in a sparkly gold dress, dead in the library of one of the richest men in Thornbury.
Who is she? Who killed her?
“No one knew the girl in gold. She seemed the most improbable of murder victims, at least on the surface. But as happens in life and in murder cases, you follow a path of ideas, theories, wrong turns, wild guesses, and unexpected successes until you finally return to the starting point only to realize that wasn’t even the beginning.
“You start with a dead girl, sprawled on the floor of a rich man’s library. You start in the still silence of a Sunday morning amid dusty tomes and stained glass, and you see where it leads. With some luck, you find justice; if you’ve got smarts, you get to arrest the killer.”
This is book two of a series. Not having read book one, I’m not certain you should start with book one, but I am certain you shouldn’t start with book two. There were quite a few characters, all with their own backstory I wasn’t privy too, and having that basic background would have probably helped me relate to the characters more.
The main character, Vox, is an elf who lives in the town of Thornbury and works as a magical detective of sorts. Vox is a bit prickly, bull-headed, extremely under educated in the ways of magic, and manages to stumble into loads of trouble: pretty much the best sort of protagonist there is for this type of who-done-it.
While I wished I’d read the first book before I’d started the second, I was able to follow the mystery elements adequately, and I found myself having an enjoyable time. The victim, the girl in gold, is found in a wealthy man’s home, in the library of all places, just sort of propped up like she took a nap and didn’t wake from it. It’s obvious she was placed there after her murder, but we literally know nothing besides that. Everyone’s a suspect. The plot of the murder was hands-down my favorite element to this story, and it was perhaps one of my favorite mystery plots of the year. I supremely wish I could discuss it more but–spoilers!
Vox and the characters themselves were not as captivating to me, but I wonder if that may be my bias because I didn’t read the first book. Half the time I kept confusing two people as one person and I still have only an inkling of what the ghost’s presence in the story meant. Again, I’d recommend starting with the first book, Thornbury Confidential.
If you like crime fiction and urban fantasy, give this one a shot.
Ben Brock is a reviewer for The Novel Approach and Queer Sci Fi. He enjoys running, whisk(e)y, the mythical gluten-free donut, and fills his life with bent bunk. He especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. His website is http://www.babrockbooks.com. You can find him on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BABrockBooks.