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Publisher's Summary

A Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, and CrimeReads Best Mystery Book of 2020

"Funny, fast-paced, and a pleasure to read." (The Wall Street Journal)

An egomaniacal movie director, an isolated island, and a decades-old murder - the addictive new novel from the best-selling author of Dear Daughter

Marissa Dahl, a shy but successful film editor, travels to a small island off the coast of Delaware to work with the legendary - and legendarily demanding - director Tony Rees on a feature film with a familiar logline.

Some girl dies.

It's not much to go on, but the specifics don't concern Marissa. Whatever the script is, her job is the same. She'll spend her days in the editing room, doing what she does best: turning pictures into stories.

But she soon discovers that on this set, nothing is as it's supposed to be - or as it seems. There are rumors of accidents and indiscretions, of burgeoning scandals and perilous schemes. Half the crew has been fired. The other half wants to quit. Even the actors have figured out something is wrong. And no one seems to know what happened to the editor she was hired to replace.

Then she meets the intrepid and incorrigible teenage girls who are determined to solve the real-life murder that is the movie's central subject, and before long, Marissa is drawn into the investigation herself.

The only problem is, the killer may still be on the loose. And he might not be finished.

A wickedly funny exploration of our cultural addiction to tales of murder and mayhem and a thrilling, behind-the-scenes whodunit, Pretty as a Picture is a captivating pause-resister from one of the most distinctive voices in crime fiction.

©2020 Elizabeth Little (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Elizabeth Little is part of an exciting new generation of crime writers who have been bending this sturdy genre into new, unexpected shapes. Pretty as a Picture is a glorious buffet - a twisty story, a cinephile's delight, a knockout of a heroine. I loved it." (Laura Lippman, New York Times best-selling author of Lady in the Lake and Sunburn)

"I am a sucker for a tough yet vulnerable heroine, and in Pretty as a Picture, Elizabeth Little gives the reader an excellent one, and sets her against a brilliantly toxic backdrop of glitz and entitlement." (Ruth Ware, New York Times best-selling author of The Turn of the Key and The Woman in Cabin 10)

"Engaging and irresistible from the very first page, Pretty as a Picture is a smart and compelling thriller filled with surprises. Little writes with such a clear, confident, and witty voice, I found myself smiling as I read." (Alafair Burke, New York Times best-selling author of The Better Sister)

"Pretty as a Picture is a remarkable thriller that succeeds on almost too many levels. It’s sharp and stylish, witty and fierce, not to mention extremely intelligent. Little perfectly and expertly conjures the unglamorous side of filmmaking - the gruesome grind of a movie shoot - in meticulous detail. This is no mere crime novel, but a must read for anyone with a passion for movies or the industry." (Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley)

"Pretty as a Picture is an atmospheric thriller that sparkles with intelligence and irrepressible wit, anchored by the singular voice of Marissa Dahl, a mega-competent female film editor plagued by anxiety. Elizabeth Little has an impeccable ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for detail, and she's created a page-turner that is as well written as it is captivating. I enjoyed every scene and sentence of this glorious book." (Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay)

What listeners say about Pretty as a Picture

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  • Overall
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Rewards you in a careful read through

I brought this book on my own because I liked the idea. It isn't a review in exchange for a book etc. . . . First off I'm very grateful to the author for not making her main character a heroine addicted prostitute or a combination of Navy Seal and Ninja. So many male authors do that now, so many you can't even count them.
The Audible narrator was excellent and she handled the protagonists ironic humor very well; she caught the timing and odd quirks. The book isn't a harrowing thriller, its more character driven and about the relationships and its funny. Don't let your mind drift you can miss things. Example the main character says "Yes, I want to know everything, except what my brother did with my sports bra he stole when he was twelve! Or how many time I made my mother cry."
There's a soul and a depth you don't notice at first especially as the M.C. explains the details of her craft. I took a second pass through and you catch all these witticisms you miss at first read. It is necessary that you get the set up of what the character's job entails, I especially liked the line that said something like "that's code for the executives not liking women who speak in broad sentences (speaking bluntly) No. I loved it! Yes it is a drag that women must speak in a vague way to avoid holding strong opinions.

14 people found this helpful

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Not for me, but Whelan is sensational!

I didn’t care for this much from the first page but kept listening because Julia Whelan is a master storyteller. Her narration of this convoluted and torturous novel is a tour de force. If you like twisty, uber clever novels, you’ll probably enjoy this. It was just not my cup of tea, as they say.

12 people found this helpful

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Narrator Julia Whelan wows us over and over! EPIC!

I cannot imagine another narrator other than Julia Whelan taking on this book. Her brilliant performance makes this audiobook a winner from the start! With her sarcasm and humor (akin to mine), her innocence and charm, Whelan brought life to this mystery with a fierce and dynamic flair brought to edit a past murder. She finds herself on a remote island with a quirky and unusual group of people as they attempt to film and solve a past murder. I found it hard to take a break, listening whenever I found time. I laughed out loud throughout. Her command of all characters’ voices, including male, is amazing (a rare quality). Author Elizabeth Little pens a thrilling murder mystery, but it is Whelan who makes it come to life. I have 12 Whelan-narrated audiobooks and each one was an audio pleasure. She could read the dictionary or a cereal box and I’d attentively listen. Her voice and inflection has quality and experience. Recommended, thanks to the dazzling talents of this phenomenal narrator, though Little’s murder mystery had its qualities as well. Take my word for it. Worth a credit! So highly recommended with 🍒 🍒 🍒 on top. Epic I say! EPIC! I just bought “The Collector,” because, of course, it is narrated by Whelan.
👏✍🏻🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟✍🏻👏🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟✍🏻👏🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟👏✍🏻

8 people found this helpful

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Very Entertaining

The first person internal monolog of the film editor is hilarious. The description of the movie business is also a riot. This book was a wonderful distraction.

6 people found this helpful

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Engaging Lead and a Host of Terrific Characters

Little's sparkling narrative is brought to life by stellar narration! Here's hoping to find Little and Whelan together again.

Marissa, the main character, shares numerous character quirks in the course of resolving a long-unsolved mystery (sort of a "locked door" murder, since it takes place on an island). Along the way, we glean a wealth of insider knowledge of the movie industry. What's not to like? Well, I suppose some listeners might find Marissa's lead-in overlong and overshared, but once she heads out for the film editing job (with a 16-page NDA), the action balances out her intellect and quirky personality.

Narrator Julia Whelan breathes life into even minor characters, for ex., the teamster crew's brief appearance is a laugh-out-loud delight and two teenage amateur detectives are spot on, charming as only earnest teens can be. They epitomize the talents of digital natives, by the way, in understated exchanges that had me nodding in recognition. After finishing this title, I went immediately to see Whelan's other projects, and was delighted to find both breadth and acclaim. She's won numerous awards, including three Audies in the last two years, so it's no surprise to see what she was able to do with Little's intricate and engaging story.

Like many Americans, our days have changed a LOT in the last six weeks. We've loved audiobooks for 20+ years and our listening habits vary, mostly involving commuting or road trips, but this was one we lingered over at lunch and meted out chapter by chapter as we neared the end. An aside: over the last few years my perspective on assigning stars has changed a bit. Is this a classic? No, It is, however, a collaboration that represents popular fiction wonderfully - a five-star light listen for heavy times.

5 people found this helpful

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A vast array of characters that entertain thruout!

I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I fully enjoyed Pretty as a Picture, as I don't read too many books in this genre. But it shouldn't come as a surprise as it's read by my all time favourite narrator. Julia Whelan brought Elizabeth Little's Pretty As A Picture so much life. I honestly don't think anyone else could've have done this audiobook justice.

ELittle gave us a perspective not many people get to see or understand. This book isn't for everyone. if you can not connect with the main Lead character early on, you could find yourself wanting to urge Marisa forward. But that was the whole point. The narrative explains things in ways that open your mind to someone else completely. I for one personally enjoyed everything Marisa had to say or feel. I could connect on certain levels for example, if you're an introvert or socially awkward, you'd probably beable to connect with Marisa a lot easier and enjoy the book to its full extent.

The air of mystery was a really fun aspect, and all the pop culture talk was highly entertaining as well.

This was a really fun read and I would recommend this to everyone. Please begin this book with an open mind and an understanding of a character that isn't just like everyone else in the world.

3 people found this helpful

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Whelan Kept Me Listening

No spoilers...
Julia Whelan 👏⭐️👍👍. She really can do it all, and she’s about the only thing that kept me in this. The writing was clever and entertaining, but without Whelan, I’m not sure I would have cared enough to keep listening. It’s a convoluted plot, and it definitely didn’t grip me in the “omg! I have to know who did it!!” way.

2 people found this helpful

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Very Frustrating

This book is way too detailed and introduces so many characters that its hard to keep up with who is who. Some characters are introduced and then never spoken of again. The main character was simultaneously self deprecating and pretentious which was extremely frustrating. I appreciated the details and thought that went into the murder mystery aspect, but most of it was very hard to follow. Julia Whelan is my favorite narrator so she is the main reason why I finished it.

2 people found this helpful

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Film lovers only apply

Another new book I bought based on blogs/ critics I listen to... I love films, so it was interesting reading about behind the scenes.. story amusing enough. The protagonist is maybe on spectrum? Which is fine if the author didn’t ramble endlessly from her POV...

2 people found this helpful

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great writing

Her dialogue sparkle with wit. Very clever writing. Deserves to be read more widely. Also if you have ever worked on a movie set you will appreciate this book a lot.

2 people found this helpful

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  • elizabeth b.
  • 02-27-20

Great dialogue

This book has some great dialogue, snappy repartee, I just couldn’t continue with the book. It’s a bit silly in my mind. So had to return it.

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