For years, I've avoid the "cozy mystery" genre like a plague. When I picture the genre in my head, all I can think about are cats solving mysteries and Murder She Wrote--not that there's anything wrong with either of those, and the more diversity in the crime genre the better, but nevertheless cozy mysteries have never been my cup of tea. That was, at least, until I found out that Kellye Garrett's Detective by Day novels, featuring her (now award-winning protagonist) Dayna Anderson, a sort-of-famous actress turned private investigator who will stop at nothing to solve these crimes. Add a load of humor and an unstoppable sense of tension and sometimes despair that keeps the book in motion and you turning the pages, and you get the work of the incomparable Kellye Garrett.
Garrett was a wrier for television, as my research has led me to understand, yet her protagonist, Day or Dayna depending on who is referring to her, is from a hometown not far from my own in Georgia. With reverence to her religion (an unspecified sect of Christianity) and so much love and warmth in the novel for Dayna and her two best friends, although an irresistible romance, it's hard to put these books down, even when you've recently suffered severe eye damage like I have in the recent year, making me take extended breaks between reading periods to try and maintain my vision while also maintaining my sanity. It's hard to keep your blood pressure and heart-rate down when you're reading work as fine as Garrett's, and what's even more astonishing is how Garrett avoids using a lot of what might be considered "negative" qualities of the genre from the past to today. Dayna does not curse (or, according to her, she does her best not to), there's not frequent sex scenes and sex is definitely not alluded to, and the violence is minimal--so much so that the climax of the first novel, HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE, is so delicious and stunning that it's hard to believe the author has kept all of these secrets and tricks buried up her sleeve somewhere.
There are two books in the series so far--HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE and HOLLYWOOD ENDING--the latter of which made my heart sink, leaving me wondering if, perhaps this is the end fo the series. According to a very recent update from the Amazon page for preorders of the fantastic Kellye Garrett, there is a. new book in the works and is coming to us in 2019:, HOLLYWOOD HACK, seemingly available for preorder and at a ridiculously low price. I rarely get so involved in a series--but lately I've started to witness and experience how Garrett's books, along with private investigator series by Erica Wright, Steph Cha, Alex Segura, and Kristen Lepionka all make me wonder if the traditional Philip Marlowe character--with Raymond Chandler being owed a lot for sort of setting some firm rules for the genre--is in fact no longer the rule, but the exception. It's a breath of fresh air to see these private investigators, not the typical white heterosexual cis-male, and how they all lead and empower different parts of different races and cultures and make one wonder if there is a brighter future for the readers of private detective fiction, making us wonder if perhaps if libraries and any other safe zone being cut by Trump, perhaps the newest way to solve all one's problems is by hiring the private investigator of the twenty-first century.
I for one am looking forward to Dayna Anderson's remarkable turn in--what I hope, for once--won't be a limited series, but will go on as long as my eyes continue to read these books. Garrett has won so many awards for the first book in Dayna's series, and I think it's important to note that she defies whatever our expectations are for a "cozy" mystery. The Detective by Day series could be viewed as a wide assortment of the crime and mystery genres, but don't be fooled and don't give in and not read these books. They are by far some of the best writing novels--fiction or non, crime or any other genre--published by day. Between the never ending, twisting and turning mysteries, the romance, the bromances (what would you call it when sister have a really close relationship? Just a sisterhood?)--you won't be able to tear your eyes away from the page, and, like me, you'll be dying for more. I have very rarely been so glued to one series at once, but Kellye Garrett can take all of my money if that means that she'll keep writing in a genre she loves, about a character who inspires her, and in this effortless, stomach-churning way that made me realize--and will allow any future readers to do the same--I cannot wait for the next Detective by Day mystery, nor to see where Garrett's career leads her.