Brushed Off by M. Lee Musgrave is a page-turner murder mystery set in Los Angeles, California. The story starts when artist James notices an out-of-place mauve Mercedes S550 creeping around his neighborhood late one night. When a string of murders suddenly rock the art community of Los Angeles, it’s up to James and his detective friend, Cisco, to investigate and find the connection between them. Working undercover, James questions the community using his connections as an artist. But, as they get closer to the truth, the stranger the circumstances surrounding the crimes become. People James once considered a suspect turn out to be innocent, while another turns up dead. Will James and Cisco solve the mystery before another victim, or will James become the next target? Only time will tell, and time is not on their side.

Musgrave writes in a way that sucks the reader in from the first page. Readers will find themselves immediately wanting to know just what the person in the mauve S550 was up to. Shortly after, the first murder victim was discovered. After that, it’s a fast-paced fight to find who is behind the killings in a community where everyone seems to know everyone. All of the circumstances appear to be tied to the art collection of the late Harriet Wagner.

I really enjoyed the character development within Brushed Off. There were two characters that I misjudged early on, Nicole and Camille. Both started off seeming shallow and like they were only out to use the people around them. Throughout the novel, readers will realize that there is more to them than met the eye. They were each stuck in their own less-than-ideal situation but wanted more in their lives.

This fast-paced novel kind of has a Criminal Minds, or CSI feel as the murders are happening. While James and Cisco worked together to figure out who the killer was, seeing all bits and pieces come together was fascinating. Readers will be shocked as the story starts to come to a close and new information is revealed. It was interesting to see how art was worked into the crimes in an unusual way, which wasn’t discovered until the book was wrapping up.

Brushed Off is a riveting mystery crime novel that will keep readers guessing till the last pages. This is a contemporary sleuth book with strong women characters. ****Four Stars, Literary Titan 2/14/22