Elective Procedures: An Elle Harrison Novel
To an upscale resort town neighboring Mexico’s Puerta Vallarta, Jen brings along her “Sex and the City”-like gal pals, Becky, Susan and Elle, for support while Jen has extensive cosmetic surgery performed by handsome and debonair Dr. Alain DuBois. And Elle Harrison brings along her husband, who was murdered in 2013’s THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE. Rather, let’s just say Charlie’s ubiety accompanies Elle on this Mexican medical junket, especially when Elle dates Dr. DuBois.
"Readers may compare this installment, which lacks the intrigue, to the first Elle Harrison novel, but Jones adds another 'Elle-oquent' thriller to her list of 16 books."
A medium tells Elle that “spirits are drawn to you.” Bunk, she thinks, until she’s chatting with Charlie on the sixth floor balcony in the wee hours. Elle hears an argument from the loge next door. While “pulling an Elle” (spacing out in her own special ubietous space that shrinks call “dissociation disorder”), she becomes aware that a woman has climbed --- or was pushed --- over the railing. Elle reaches to grab her hand, but fails. The rising sun and homicide Sergeant José Perez greet her upon returning from her “Elle.” She recalls nothing, except the woman crashing onto the concrete.
Cops, however, don’t believe in coincidences, especially when Elle discovers on the same adjacent balcony another dead DuBois patient with her face shredded like Parmesan cheese. Perez suspects Elle, and defense attorney/gal-pal Susan comes to Elle’s…uh, defense. But Mexico’s criminal procedural rules differ from those in Philadelphia.
There is no shortage of suspects, and anorexic Melanie Crane from Montreal claims she is being stalked by one of the beefcake pool boys hired by the posh resort to make female patients feel more special. Meanwhile, Becky falls for charismatic “activities coordinator” Luis, as Elle discovers that the beefcake brigade hides secrets behind capped-teeth smiles. The reader feels like a ball volleyed about in a murder-mystery tennis match. Is it this suspect? No, that one. But it could be…
Author Merry Jones takes on social issues that involve appearances and society’s perception of beauty. She philosophizes when Elle ponders “scars that were invisible to the eye but that disfigured the heart or the mind” instead of those from plastic surgery.
Unless Elle can unravel the mysterious demises of two occupants in the adjacent hotel suite, she may be chatting with Charlie on his side of the afterlife. Readers may compare this installment, which lacks the intrigue, to the first Elle Harrison novel, but Jones adds another “Elle-oquent” thriller to her list of 16 books.
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on July 18, 2014