Cover Image: The Wrong Girl

The Wrong Girl

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I enjoyed this story  and for me it was a very quick read.  Personally i shake my head at how naive young girls trust men but i know it has been happening for eternity and will continue to happen.   
I received an ARC of this story for my review.
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What a fun novel! The Wrong Girl is the start of a new series by Donis Casey starring 1920s silent movie actress Bianca LaBelle. Bianca plays journalist Bianca Dangereuse in a series of action movies that take advantage of her athleticism. She performs stunts and escapes from peril in exotic locations. Good thing Bianca is used to narrow escapes. 

Five years before, Bianca was a teenager in Oklahoma named Blanche Tucker. Blanche was beautiful, brave, ambitious, and incredibly naive. A con man named Graham Peyton convinced her to run away with him. He attempted to sell her into prostitution. Blanche, however, escaped, changed her name, and managed to become the Hollywood film star she felt destined to be. But now Peyton has been found dead, and a private detective, Ted Oliver, keeps coming around to ask way too many questions. What really happened to Graham? And can Bianca, with the help of her friends, save herself one more time?

Casey combines colorful characters, historical research, and a rollicking, energetic style in the Wrong Girl. Some mysteries are solved, but others are left open for the next episode. Bianca is engaging and sympathetic, but not above breaking legal or ethical boundaries to take care of herself. Alma, an older actress, is an alcoholic guardian angel for Bianca. Real Hollywood personalities like Mary Pickford and Doug Fairbanks also make appearances. Bianca is set to get herself into scrape after scrape...and I, for one, am ready to follow as eagerly as Bianca Dangereruse's silent film fans.
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The Wrong Girl is the first of serial adventure featuring Bianca Dangereuse. Well, Dangereuse is the character played by Bianca LaBelle whose rise from Oklahoma farmgirl to Hollywood star is the foundation for this new series. It begins when Ted Oliver is hired to investigate a murder of a man who disappeared five years ago and whose body was just discovered. How the murder of a mobbed up trafficker connects to the story of Bianca is something Oliver hopes to uncover, though readers may hope he fails.

 



The Wrong Girl is a pleasant historical mystery set in the wild Hollywood of silent films and Prohibition, or evading Prohibition to be more accurate. There are amusing chapter interstitia that mimic the inserts in silent films that advance the plot. Bianca is a plucky young heroine that overcomes adversity with daring and savoir fair. Alma, her mentor and patron, is a silent film star wtih a heart of gold. Ted Oliver is the early iteration of the noir detective. However, even though ending with questions that feed into a second installment is a perfect homage to silent films, it disappointed me. The book felt incomplete because too little was resolved. Yes, we learn the who, what, where, when, how, and why of the murder, but that’s the tip of the iceberg which seems to be waiting ominously for the second book.

I received an e-galley of The Wrong Girl from the publisher through NetGalley.
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I read a review of this on Kittling Books and was pleased to find it still offered on NetGalley. Since I've recently had a run of books that ended up in the DNF pile, it was nice to find a book that caught and held my interest. I haven't read any of the Alafair Tucker mysteries by Casey, but The Wrong Girl was an enjoyable historical mystery.

What is it about?

A young girl is fascinated by Hollywood and the film industry which is still in its infancy in 1926. Blanche is fifteen when a predator pretending to be a producer finds her in a small Oklahoma town. Charming and skilled at the seduction of young women, Graham Peyton persuades Blanche that he loves her and that he can get her into the movies. Blanche doesn't take a great deal of convincing and agrees to run off with him, but it doesn't take long before Blanche must confront her mistake.

Luckily, Blanche is more than a silly, star-struck adolescent; she has skills from growing up on a farm with brothers and is able to escape a "fate worse than death" and find friends that support and encourage her.

Withing six years, Blanche becomes Bianca LaBelle whose character Bianca Dangereuse is the adventurous heroine of several silent films. Blanche has been inordinately lucky in her friendships. In fact, Mrs. Gilbert and Alma Bolding are a rich part of the story.

Private investigator Ted Oliver has been hired to investigate the death of a man who disappeared five years ago and whose skeletal remains have recently been discovered. What does this have to do with Bianca and her friends?

An interesting beginning to a new series.

NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press
Historical Mystery. Nov. 11, 2019. Print length: 256 pages.
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The seedier side of old Hollywood exposed... and its definitely not all glitz and glamour.

It's the heyday of silent movies- Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, America's sweetheart couple, rule the silver screen...the mysterious Bianca Dangereuse, the darling of the Dangereuse film franchise, takes the world by storm with her unprecedented stunts and athletic abilities.

But before Bianca became the fabulous Dangereuse, she was a small town farm girl named Blanche- a little girl with big dreams of getting out of hicks ville and heading to the bright lights of Hollywood and stardom.

Then a Hollywood producer comes to town...taking a fancy to the beautiful young Blanche.

Dreams come at a price and evil can look nice all dressed up in a three piece suit. 

4 stars!
Thank you NetGalley, Poisoned Pen Press and the author Ms. Donis Casey for the opportunity to read this Advanced Readers Copy
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Interesting tale of a young girl in Oklahoma Territory in the early 1920s who is flim flammed, avoids the brothel she is sold to in Arizona, and mysteriously rises to stardom with a new name in the new world known as Hollywood motion pictures. Then six years later a man is murdered and turns out to be her flimflam man. Enter the sleuth. It is an enjoyable read.
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley.
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The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey takes a character from her long-running series, Alafair Tucker Mysteries, runs her away from home, and ends her up in Hollywood as a major motion picture star. My, that went fast didn't it? Blanche is bored by life in Oklahoma. Like many teenagers, she wished for adventure and love. She believes she has found both when she meets Graham Peyton as she is mooning over movie magazines in the drugstore. He is an exciting older (to her) man who claims to by in the movies and able to get her a start in Hollywood. She falls for his story and runs away with him. Graham, being an expert at seducing young girls, goes slowly at first, shows her a good time, buys her beautiful clothing, and promises her marriage. Eventually that changes and she finds herself in his bed. Not loving the act, she figures it is worth it for the rest of the life her promises...until one morning she wakes up to find him and all the beautiful clothing gone, and herself left with a gross old man who has "bought" her from Graham and is taking her to start a new "job." Being naive but not stupid, Blanche takes off at her first opportunity and runs through the high desert until she is cold, hungry, and exhausted. She comes upon a cabin and knocks on the door. Her life is about to change. 

What a wonderful new series. In Hollywood the reader meets all kinds of characters, some fictional, some not. Blanch is there although now she is Bianca LeBelle, and is indeed a movie star. But there is a mystery afoot. Graham Peyton, the man who had seduced her many years ago, has been found dead, as he has apparently been for at least five years, so long he is now nothing more than a skeleton. A local mobster, K.D. Dix, has hired a private investigator, Ted Oliver to ascertain the killer and retrieve a red ledger that Peyton had at the time of his death. The book is interesting in that he swivels between 1928 and 1920, telling the entire story as it happens. Blanche and Alma are wonderful characters, as is Delphinia Gilbert, Alma's personal assistant and Blanche's pseudo-mother. It is so exciting to be in Hollywood at the beginning, when pictures were still silent and meet so many important players. Casey has done a fabulous job interweaving the story within in this crime investigation and the glitz and glamour of the time. This countrified Oklahoman has fulfilled the American Dream, come to Hollywood and made it big. There definitely will be more. I love this book and recommend it very highly as a stirring piece of Americana. 

I received a free ARC of The Wrong Girl from Netgalley. All opinions and interpretations contained herein are solely my own.  #netgalley    #thewronggirl
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This was slow starting for me and it took a few chapters before I felt like I was into the story.  It felt like I was reading the script of an old, old movie.  I guess maybe that was the author's intent.  The story picked up and kept me entertained - - until the ending.  I was not a fan of the way it ended and knocked off a star because of that.
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Long-time fans of Donis Casey's Alafair Tucker series about a crime-solving farm woman in 1910s Oklahoma just might remember Alafair's daughter Blanche from The Wrong Hill to Die On when Blanche was sent to Arizona to recuperate from a respiratory ailment. Of all Alafair's children, Blanche was the prettiest and the most dissatisfied with life on the farm. As far as Blanche was concerned, Boynton was just a flyspeck on the map and not worthy of notice, so she's the perfect Tucker rebel to start a new series.

Yes, Alafair and other family members are mentioned in The Wrong Girl-- and some of those "mentions" made me laugh-- but this is Blanche's show, and she turns out to be one very fine actress. The main thing I liked about her was that she admitted when she did stupid things and used her intelligence and what she learned at her mother's knee to get past the bad bits and persevere to get what she wanted.

The Wrong Girl is a departure for Casey. We move from Oklahoma slang to 1920s Hollywood slang. The outlook is fresh and spirited. Blanche is showing readers how fast the country was changing during the '20s. The chapter headings are the dialogue cards used during old silent movies, and I have to admit that the fast pace and all the action made me think I'd walked into an episode of The Perils of Pauline. 

Yes, I really enjoyed The Wrong Girl. It's amazing how different a book can be from its predecessors and yet be so reminiscent of them. Blanche has chosen a completely different life from the rest of her family-- a life many of them would probably frown upon-- but she is a Tucker, and you can see this from first page to last. I'm looking forward to her next adventure with a great deal of anticipation.
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I think this is quite a good start for a story but I'm in two minds about it: I found the plot enjoyable and entertaining but the style of writing seemed a bit weird to me.
I liked the cast of characters, the background and the solid mystery.
I'm curious about the next instalment in this series.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Bianca LaBelle - or Blanche Tucker - is a movie star with a secret past. Ted Oliver is a failed actor turned PI, called to investigate the body of a man washed up on a beach.

The Wrong Girl is a story of old Hollywood, of bad men, of resourceful women. It's a quick, QUICK read, and perhaps I got an SUPER advanced copy, because parts of the story were formatted strangely, but overall, it's a fun story and I am interested in seeing where this story goes. It's written almost...almost like a weekly serial from the old days.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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3.5/5 stars

1.5 stars docked off because the storytelling of The Wrong Girl just wasn’t for me, and though I did like reading it I won’t be reading the next book if the storytelling is in the same or a similar style.

The book started off slow, and it wasn’t until a few chapters in that it started to pick up. The detective in this book, Ted Oliver, also took much more of a minor role in this book, which is largely the reason for my rating. I was just more interested in the detective himself than whatever was going on with Blanche/Bianca. 

Of all the characters and chapters, I liked detective Ted Oliver’s the most, as it gave us a look into the investigation and was where the mysterious tone of the book came in. When it came to Blanche/Bianca’s chapters, however, the tone was different, sometimes boring, but I loved the support that was shared between Blanche/Bianca, Mrs. Gilbert, and Alma Bolding.

As for the mystery of Graham Peyton’s death, I thought it was okay. I wasn’t surprised when I found out who was responsible or when a few secrets were revealed. I don’t think it was even supposed to be a hard guess of who was responsible for his death, but I wasn’t dying to know what exactly happened to Peyton. The only thing that did surprise me was the twist that came in a later chapter of the book. I loved this twist and hadn’t guessed it at all!

For anyone who doesn’t mind seeing less of the detective and more of the other characters in flashbacks, I would highly recommend The Wrong Girl! The setting of this book is wonderful, from the slang to Donis Casey’s description of the fashion and movies at the time, and it’s a solid mystery book altogether that doesn’t get ridiculous and answers questions in a believable way.
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Who is Blanca LaBelle?  She might be a film star but she's shrouded in mystery until the body of Graham Peyton is discovered and Ted Oliver starts looking for the truth.  Fans of old Hollywood will enjoy this for the glimpses of the town in the 1920s.  Young women were not well treated then and Blanca was among them.  She started life as Blanche in Oklahoma.  She had stars in her eyes and fell, unfortunately, under the influence of Peyton (a real villain!). This moves a bit in time but that works for the story, which will well told.  There's a good mystery here as well as the tale of a woman who worked to get what she wanted and then found .... No spoilers!  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC>
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Donis Casey has launched a new series. If you are a fan of Casey’s ten Alafair Tucker mysteries, you’ll know that she’s one of the best at writing dialogue and setting that plunges the reader into a very particular time and place. Her plots excite and entice. All that writing skill goes full speed ahead in the new series. The place has changed and moved forward (a little) in time. We’re (mostly) not in Oklahoma anymore, Toto. 

It’s Hollywood and the films are silent. There are some truly brutish cads in the cast of characters, but the novel’s villainy is far more subtle than a silent flicker’s stereotypical bad guy. Nothing’s simple here and the wrongdoings have a way of creeping up on the reader in twisty, unsettling ways.

In the opening scene, a private detective, Ted Oliver, drives up to the luxurious estate of Bianca LaBelle, the star of “the biggest money-making movie franchise in the entire Western world.” The star, unlike her fellow actors who live “to see their names in print,” is an enigma. Rumors swirl about her origins. Is she from a noble French family, escaped to America to avoid an arranged marriage? She lives with Alma Bolding—an actress twenty years her senior and famous and wildly successful long before she took Bianca in. Salacious suggestions arise about the two women. Oliver rather doubts the scuttlebutt. He even doubts her name is Bianca LaBelle. 

He’s come to ask her about a recent discovery of bones in a hillside along the coast, exposed by a recent storm. This is not the usual dead body in a murder mystery. Bianca answers Oliver’s inquiry with the slightly snide, “I’m as interested as anyone in Mr. Carter’s recent discoveries in Egypt,” but she denies knowing anything about bones. But those bones are trouble—that much we can guess, but the untangling of why and to whom will be ever so entertaining.

If this elegant young woman feels faintly familiar to Casey’s longtime readers, there’s a reason. After the first three gripping chapters, the novel shifts from 1926 Hollywood back to Boynton, Oklahoma in 1920. Bianca is Blanche, one of Alafair’s daughters. You will have met her if you read The Wrong Hill to Die On, but it won’t matter a bit if you haven’t. She isn’t content with her lot. Worse, she thinks she’s more worldly and wily than it turns out she is. Naivete can be dangerous—or perhaps dangereuse, if we’re going to stay in character. The novel quickly leaves Boynton behind and from there masterfully intertwines two timelines of events six years apart. 

There’s both nail-biting suspense and humor in this mystery. The humor often lies in clever word play: “Southern California was chock-a-block with good looking men. Most of them with the character of a weasel, and in certain cases that comparison was insulting to weasels everywhere.” 

Casey has a special talent for total reader immersion in the world of her novel through the speech patterns and word choices of each character. At one point someone we don’t like at all throws a small delay tactic with this bit of slang that puts us squarely in 20’s Hollywood, “let me go to the can and change my threads.” Blanche holds the job of narrator for parts of this tale, and her youth and innocence comes through vividly in her narrative voice, “Blanche had thought she couldn’t be more over the moon when she found out she was going to meet Alma Bolding, but Tom Mix was just the berries.” ‘Just the berries’? It’s enough to make the reader’s heart break with worry for this child. And the idea that a girl who is over the moon over a movie star can later be the cool, restrained woman of the opening scene? That puzzle laces this book with tension that will keep you turning pages.

Much as I love Alafair and will miss her fictional presence in my reading life, I am happy to report that Donis Casey’s extension westward and onward will not disappoint. I highly recommend The Wrong Girl. It’s the right book.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of the novel "The Wrong Girl" by Donis Casey in exchange for an honest review.  This book isn't my normal genre but it sounded intriguing and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to read it.  This is the story of a murdered man and then story of a young lady easily taken advantage of and how she rises to stardom.  I love a good mystery and I love a good historical tale which is what made me want to read "The Wrong Girl".   The mystery here isn't all that deep and I didn't really get much from the parts of the story that were about the investigation into the skeletal remains of a man who disappeared five years earlier.  I didn't care for the investigator at all.  However the book shines when it tells the tale of the young girl who is taken advantage of and sold by a criminal pervert.  As the story shows her overcome that situation and we see her grow and evolve the book truly becomes a page turner.  Then when that chapter is over and we are thrown back in the investigation, the pace dramatically slows again and my engagement with the book fades off.  But as I plug along and get to another chapter about young Blanche I am again entranced.  So yes, I liked the story at the heart of the book.  There are some answered questions at the end of the book but it feels very open ended and a future book is introduced.  I just don't think I enjoyed this book enough to continue.  It is a mystery series and the mystery itself was the book's weak point.
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It's the early 1930s  and 15-year-old Blanche is enthralled with the flickers/ movies.  From Oklahoma, she dreams of being a movie star. 

One day, while sneaking off to the movies Blanche meets a handsome man, Graham Peyton.  He eventually professes his love for Blanche and promises to take her to California so she can become an actress.

But the things are not as they appear, and Blanche finds herself abandoned. 

Blanche does make it to Hollywood and becomes a successful actress. Graham Peyton, however, did not have as much luck. His skeletal remains were found.

A  private detective was hired by a mobster to find out how Graham died.
The story is told mostly through the detective point of view. But the reader also gets glimpses into the other characters.
This was a fun read with great characters. There were suspense and surprising twists.

I particularly liked the references to the movie stars within the story, it added to its authenticity of the time.
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A fun little read! I enjoyed the way this story was told through flashbacks as we learned about the life of Blanche/Bianca and what exactly happened to Graham Peyton. This book had my attention from the first to last page. I appreciated the historical setting and enjoyed the surprises along the way!  Many thanks to Poison Pen Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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1920's silent movies with a rising star Bianca LaBelle, a legendary movie actress Alma Bolding , Mary Pickford and Tom Mix as supporting characters, this is the start of "TheWrong Girl." Bianca's background is a mystery, but though flash backs we learn her family is from Oklahoma. As a star stuck teen, she is "coned" by a fast taking confidence man. Ending up in Hollywood, via Arizona, Bianca's story unfolds, only to have a "to be continued" attached at the end. Like all of the silent film serials, that"hook" will keep bringing you mack demanding more!! Great read set in a colorful time.
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The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey was an enjoyable read.   When a 15 year old girl from  Oklahoma meets the man of her dreams what could possibly go wrong?  Right?  Blanche was an interesting character and I liked her lots, but I just couldn't seem to get into this story.  But it intrigued me enough, that I may give it another try at some point
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I don't always get captured by historical fiction, but the characters in this book drew me in,    Blanche is a normal 15 year old girl from a remote area of Oklahoma.  When she meets the man of her dreams what could possibly go wrong, or in this case will anything go right?  She finds that bad events are sometimes followed by amazingly good luck.  Meeting a silent film star essentially saves her life.  Reinvented as Bianca and a star herself life is so much better than she ever imagined.  But a private investigator hired by a mob boss put her new life, and that of her loved ones in extreme peril.
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