Readers were introduced to the crime-solving twins Kerry and Terry McAfee in The Butcher of Beverly Hills, a funny, inventive, and thoroughly enjoyable chick-lit mystery by Jennifer Colt. In the follow-up book, The Mangler of Malibu Canyon, the twins are back and must solve a mystery that hits close to home. Their Aunt Reba and cousin Robert have both confessed to the murder of a young blonde woman. The twins know that they’re both innocent and are only confessing to save the other one, but they must prove it to keep their family members out of prison.
Their investigation leads them to a powerful movie mogul, a spa that specializes in horses with emotional problems, and a cult that milks the wealthy residents of Malibu for money to support their alien creation theory. All the while, they must work with police detective John Boatwright, a man to whom Terry finds herself very attracted. Will the girls be able to figure out who the true Malibu murderer is before their aunt and cousin go down for the crime?
Those who read The Butcher of Beverly Hills will be happy to know that the McAfee twins are back in their normal fine form. Kerry is wild as ever, and Terry, who gets more of a love interest in this installment, remains cool-headed and practical. New readers to the series will take an immediate liking to the red-headed twosome and be drawn into the crazy mystery. With a good combination of humor and suspense, The Mangler of Malibu Canyon is a quick, satisfying read that fans of books like the Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series will find hard to resist.
The book is not without its flaws, though. An opening sequence that involves a thwarted hijacking is ridiculous at best and insulting to those still reeling from 9/11 at worst. In addition, the ending, where the killer and the killer’s motivations are revealed, is unnecessarily complicated and not one hundred percent satisfying. Despite that, the second book in the McAfee Twin series is an enjoyable book that will hook new readers and encourage fans to check out book number three.