By Daphne Uviller
Available now from Bantam
I didn't really know what to expect with HOTEL NO TELL. I hadn't read the first book about Zephyr Zuckerman, SUPER IN THE CITY. But the press release promised comedy and the cover struck me as a modern update on noir. I'd just seen Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, and had visions in my head of a funny update and deconstruction of noir detective tropes.
Not so much.
And yeah, I can be harsh on books when they aren't what I was expecting. But I liked HOTEL NO TELL and identified with Zephyr almost immediately.
HOTEL NO TELL gives about equal weight to Zephyr's life with her family and friends as to her case. She recently broke up with long time boyfriend Gregory, because he wanted kids and she didn't. Everyone is acting like she's silly to break up a good thing for a stage she'll grow out of. Since I don't want kids of my own, I know how pushy people can be when you bring up that fact. (Even my family does it, and they know I have no maternal instincts.) She also has to help two close friends with their personal crises: one isn't adapting to suburbia and the other . . . well, people she comes in contact with have a tendency to die in freak accidents.
As for the case? Now a junior detective with the New York City Special Investigations Commission, Zephyr gets her first chance to go undercover. $100,000 has been embezzled from a small hotel. Shortly after going undercover, Zephyr finds the owner's nephew in a customer's room, dying from an Ambien overdose. As with any good detective story, the two seemingly unrelated cases are intimately related.
Daphne Uviller's prose style didn't capture my attention at first, but I liked her vocabulary. After a couple of chapters I managed to get into the rhythm of HOTEL NO TELL. From there the story was fast-paced and funny, if rarely hard-boiled. Zephyr's world is somewhat cartoonish, but there's a strong emotional core. I certainly intend to spend more time in her world.