Skip to main content

Pretty Guilty Women


Pretty Guilty Women

Even the most amateur of sleuths knows that to solve a murder, you must find the killer. But in Gina LaManna’s PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN, the detectives at the Banks wedding have one body and four suspects --- each of whom claims to be the sole perpetrator. So how, at one of the most lavish weddings ever seen, did worn-down mom and wife Ginger, successful and gorgeous Kate, alcoholic and depressed Emily, and glamorous and wealthy Lulu all end up confessing to the same murder, and what are they hiding? LaManna answers these questions and many more in her fun, suspenseful and powerfully female-driven book.

Ginger, Emily, Kate and bride-to-be Whitney were the best of friends in college, practically inseparable, but they have drifted apart since then. Now Ginger is working impossible hours to make ends meet for her family of five, Emily is three sheets to the wind at all times, and Kate is watching her perfect relationship fall apart because of her inability to have children. And Whitney? She has invited all of her oldest friends to the wedding of the century: a week-long affair held at an exclusive resort and spa in sunny California. The only problem? Emily and Ginger are sworn enemies, Kate’s boyfriend dumps her at the reception desk --- and, oh right, someone is murdered during the dinner.

"It may sound odd to describe a murder mystery as 'fun,' yet that’s exactly what PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN is. LaManna’s characters are unique and fully fleshed out, and although they are dealing with some major issues...they are written with humor and love."

Our fourth murder suspect is Lulu, the wife of the groom’s uncle, who is just as sexy and desirable as ever, regardless of her approaching 70s. LaManna kicks off PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN as each of our four main characters is preparing to jet off to the wedding. While Ginger, Emily and Kate are grappling with their own issues and fears of facing their friends again, Lulu is desperate to find out if her husband is still faithful. She has been married five times to four men, and this is about to be her longest and most successful marriage yet --- or it would be, if she could figure out why her husband keeps one of his office drawers locked, where he is when he says he’s at late-night meetings, and who the contact labeled simply “S” is in his phone.

Following some semi-disastrous trips and arrivals, the four women are finally checked in and ready to hit the bar. It is here that they meet, share wine and champagne, and find a new friend in Sydney, a single mother with an infant, Lydia, constantly in tow. With Kate billing everything to her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, Ginger avoiding her moody teenage daughter, Emily drowning in champagne, and Lulu guiding them through the highs and lows of love, what could possibly go wrong? LaManna intersperses her characters’ wine-fueled hangout sessions with police transcripts and awkward family run-ins that will have readers turning pages at a rapid pace (between sips of wine, of course) to discover who exactly is dead, who murdered him and, above all, why these four women are lying...or telling the truth.

It may sound odd to describe a murder mystery as “fun,” yet that’s exactly what PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN is. LaManna’s characters are unique and fully fleshed out, and although they are dealing with some major issues --- infidelity, domestic abuse, fertility, dysfunctional everything --- they are written with humor and love. Lulu was a particular favorite of mine (think Blanche from “The Golden Girls”) due to her sass, confidence and style, but what is important to note is that every woman will see herself in at least one of these ladies. LaManna alternates between each character’s point of view and transcripts from police interviews with not only the main players, but also the concierge, receptionist, bartender and more to give readers every side of the story --- and yet there are major twists I promise you won’t see coming. The book reads like a mashup of “Sex and the City,” BIG LITTLE LIES and the game of Clue all in one, with a hearty dose of “Say Yes to the Dress” for anyone who has a Wedding board on Pinterest.

Of course, PRETTY GUILTY WOMEN is not just fun and suspenseful, as it covers some powerful topics, including female friendship. Even as you are wondering whodunit, you’ll also be racing to figure out why these four women are no longer friends (and if you should call your own college roommate) and how they can ever come together again with all the tension and guilt between them. Juxtaposing these hearty issues with the fun of a murder mystery set at a wedding, LaManna pens the perfect end-of-summer read for anyone who loves girl power, suspense and the open bar at a wedding.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on September 6, 2019

Pretty Guilty Women
by Gina LaManna