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by Ellen Byerrum
Signet, August 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0451216164

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lacey Smithsonian is once again able to prove that the fashion world can be deadly. Her column Crimes of Fashion has a loyal audience in the Washington DC area. In addition, her articles have caused her to be involved in several criminal investigations. HOSTILE MAKEOVER puts her up against the fame and danger of extreme makeover-type shows.

Amanda Manville went from ugly to gorgeous on an extreme makeover reality show. After becoming a supermodel, she decides to launch a clothing collection. To publicize this event, Lacey is invited to do a one-on-one interview. Much to Lacey's surprise Amanda wants Lacey's promise that she will investigate if Amanda is murdered.

Amanda has a stalker, has been getting threatening letters and is worried that someone wants to kill her. As she is a manipulator and an egomaniac in addition to being quite mean and petty, Lacey does not believe her story. When Amanda is later killed right before her eyes, Lacey feels guilty for doubting her.

Out of guilt she decides to investigate Amanda's death. Her paper agrees to publish any stories as long as she will work with the police reporter. Lacey's family makes a surprise visit and they end up becoming involved in the investigation. Lacey must find Amanda's killer before he can harm her family.

HOSTILE MAKEOVER is different from the previous books in the series. In this book, Lacey's family appears. Lacey is very different from her mother Rose and her sister Cherise. They are Middle America with limited fashion sense while Lacey is more concerned with fashion and maintaining fashion standards.

The juxtaposition between Lacey and her family provides additional depth to Lacey's character. While it is apparent that she does not understand her family she does love them. In addition, the adventures they share in HOSTILE MAKEOVER allows her to see a different and unexpected side to her family.

The thought of being fashionable or stylish might be intimidating to the average reader. Fashion rules are always changing and can be difficult to understand or follow. This fear of fashion should not prevent anyone from reading this series. Lacey Smithsonian is an engaging character who is not overly obsessed with fashion. Her personality is only one of the selling points for this book.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, June 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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