The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss ★★★★

The Many Pop-Geek References of Dahlia Moss

This book is a cute fun romp. I feel like it’s the perfect mix of Phryne Fisher and Ready Player One, a mystery series with a heavy theme of geekery and a definite sense of time and place. It’s as if someone took Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun and updated it to match geek culture today (and removed most of the worst awkwardly sexist bits). If none of those references made any sense, then just know that its a light hearted mystery featuring a post-college woman who appreciates a good video game and is trying to find her way in the world.

The book is very full of geeky video game references, and I feel is sort of constantly walking the line of pandering to its audience. But somehow it didn’t irritate me in the same way that Ready Player One did. Perhaps it’s Dahlia’s constant self-deprecation. Perhaps it’s that the author does it with a nod and a wink. Perhaps it’s just me and my fondness for sassy protagonists a la Buffy and Veronica Mars and all the rest. Regardless, it is definitely a book with a certain attitude who know’s its audience.

Dahlia Moss does not have a job, or a boyfriend, or a plan. She does have a wacky roommate, a penchant for video games of all descriptions, and around $10. And once upon a time, she spent about a week as a receptionist for a detective agency. When one of her roommate’s even wackier friends misconstrues this as actual detecting experience and offers her $1000 to retrieve a stolen weapon in an MMORPG game, she figures why not take the easy cash? When her erstwhile client ends up dead, stabbed by a real-life replica of the digital weapon, things get a bit more interesting…

The author chose to follow the time honored tradition of all murder mystery writers. It’s never the first person you think it is, and the Least Likely Suspect rises up to catch you from behind. But that doesn’t make the story any less fun to read.

All the characters in this book are fully realized slight exaggerations of someone you probably already know. You can’t help but say to yourself “yep, I know someone just like that.” Are they real people, with real problems, messy and disjointed and confused? No. But they are fun, and lucky, and plucky, and adventurous caricatures of people you like.

The best part of this book? There’s already one sequel, and another on the way to be released in January. I fully expect them to be much like the first, and if the author continues to write another 10 books that follow the exact pattern of this one I’ll be more than satisfied. There is nothing wrong with potato chip books that fill you up in just the right way, but you always want just one more.

Of course, I’m already waiting for the announcement that this series being turned into a tv show. And if someone picks it up and does it the right way, I think it’d be a huge success. I’d certainly watch it. This series has emerged in the right time and place, and I don’t see why it wont end up being the next popular hit.

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