LITTLE PRETTY THINGS by Lori Rader-Day, Book Review

Little Pretty Things is the second novel from author Lori Rader-Day.

Little Pretty Things - Lori Rader-Day

Little Pretty Things Synopsis:


Juliet Townsend is stuck in a dead-end job cleaning at a cheap motel, stealing little pretty things that catch her eye—until her former best friend and rival, Madeleine Bell, checks in. By morning, Juliet is no longer jealous of Maddy. She’s the chief suspect in her murder.

When a former friend and old high school rival, Madeleine Bell, checks into the hotel, Juliet adds envy to her bitterness. Well-dressed, flashing a diamond ring on her finger, and as beautiful as ever, Maddy is the very embodiment of Juliet’s every dashed hope. But why would she choose to stay in the seedy Midnight Inn?

Before an answer to that question turns up, the next morning Juliet learns that Maddy has been found dead in her room. And the police have targeted Juliet as the chief suspect.

To protect herself, Juliet is forced to investigate the circumstances of Maddy’s life and death. What she uncovers is that her onetime rival certainly never had it all. And Juliet may lose what little she has.

(Seventh Street Books)

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I was thoroughly entertained by Lori Rader-Day’s debut novel The Black Hour and had been looking forward to reading more of what this author had to offer.

I admire Rader-Day’s unobtrusive writing style. Her prose is accessible and her characters and plot very much anchored in the everyday.

In Little Pretty Things she has again presented readers with a protagonist whose actions are not always likeable, nor is she intentionally bad – she makes excuses, she is fallible, she is human. You want her to make better choices, and benefit from doing so.

In fact Rader-Day avoids the ‘goodie/baddie’ tropes altogether and revels in the grey. She acknowledges the ignorance that is so prevalent in society and its consequences.

I’d never seen girls like this. How had they been raised? By fan clubs instead of families?

Even the name of the small town the novel is set in, Midway, “named for the fact that it wasn’t one place or another. We were halfway to anywhere that mattered” speaks to the mindset of many that live there.

The key theme within Little Pretty Things is loss and its many forms — loss of life, innocence, dignity.

The whole world would forget or pretend to, in order to spare us the pain of remembering. But I already knew a little about this. The worst tragedy of loss was that the world kept spinning.

For all that there is to like about Little Pretty Things’s construction, I did not find the story itself quite as compelling as her debut. But I suspect that just comes down to my having a greater affinity with The Black Hour‘s academia/college setting than the living paycheck-to-paycheck, high school sport and class reunions within this novel.

You can read a sample chapter of Little Pretty Things and a book club discussion guide is available for download.

UPDATE: In 2017 Lori Rader-Day released her third novel titled The Day I Died.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5  — Overall 3.75

Little Pretty Things is available from:

Book Depository | Amazon | B&N | Kobobooks | Indigo | Booktopia(Aus)

Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Thriller

About the Author, Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day is the author of The Black Hour. She has also published fiction in Good Housekeeping, where she won first place in the magazine’s first short-story contest; The Madison Review, which awarded her the 2008 Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction; TimeOut Chicago; Southern Indiana Review; Crab Orchard Review; and other journals and magazines. She lives in Chicago, where she is active in the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter, Sisters in Crime Chicagoland Chapter, and International Thriller Writers. In addition, she is an instructor for Story Studio Chicago/North Shore, where she teaches mystery writing.

Check out Lori’s website and connect with her on Twitter.

Other reviews of Little Pretty Things

Goodreads, Blogcritics, Kirkus Reviews, Caught Read Handed, Publishers Weekly, BookPage, LuxuryReading

* My receiving a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.