top of page

Biographer and amateur sleuth Cece Caruso will freely admit that she spent her youth idolizing girl detective Nancy Drew, a fantasy that undoubtedly influenced her grown-up job writing biographies of dead mystery writers. But, as Cece will discover driving down the highway in her Jackie O sunglasses and a borrowed baby-blue Cadillac, some fantasies die harder than others.

Researching the life of "Carolyn Keene," the pseudonymous author of the Nancy Drew mysteries, Cece meets a flamboyant collector of "Blue Nancys," the original books with blue covers. When he finds out she is taking a road trip to Palm Springs to snoop around at the annual Nancy Drew fan convention, he offers her the use of his swanky vacation house. But the last thing she expects to find lying around the swimming pool is one very dead body.

In a race against time that takes her from a secret enclave of restored Victorians near downtown L.A. to the driest stretches of California desert, Cece will have to channel her former idol and then some to unmask a sly killer‹before he comes after her. Of course, it helps to have a knockout collection of vintage clothing, though Cece prefers Azzedine Alaia semi-gloss knits and Halston silver sequined berets to Nancy's prim suits and gloves.


"Cece and her friends are engaging and earnest, and the other supporting characters are well drawn. The mystery has enough twists and red herrings to keep readers guessing."

"Enter Sharon McCone, V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum. Also Cece Caruso, whose second page-turning exploit is "Not a Girl Detective" by Susan Kandel. If Nancy Drew had gotten pregnant in high school, married a philandering English prof and divorced the bum, she would be Cece. Cece's a survivor. The story is gloriously nostalgic, and so are her clothes...Like Nancy Drew, Cece rescues herself. And ingeniously. With a hurled "Chicago Manual of Style," not a bad blunt instrument for a scribe."

"The passion of her sleuth, Cece Caruso, for vintage shoes and clothing is one of the more entertaining quirks in a wide field. But Kandel also takes care to provide some intellectual stimulus for Cece."

"Not a Girl Detective is as sparkling as a spilled packet of Sweet ‘n Low. This is the pink mystery to read if you're reading just one."

"Comic, clever and fast paced, this story zooms from the past to the present even as the scene shifts from LA to Palm Springs and back again. In the process, Kandel shares tons of tidbits about the Nancy Drew mystery series and the people who made it a success to this day."

"Full of comedy, intelligence and knowledge, this is a mystery you want to share."

"Kandel delivers on the promise of her first Cece Caruso mystery, I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason (2004), with this equally zany and engrossing riff on Southern California culture past and present. Secrets within secrets tantalize biographer Cece as she researches 'Carolyn Keene,' the pseudonym used by the unsung authors hired by the Stratemeyer Syndicate to write the
Nancy Drew books... In addition to all the Nancy lore, Kandel weaves her knowledge of art into the puzzle and ties everything into a splendid bow.
Readers will be anxious to know whose bio she'll tackle next."

"Nancy's adventures were downright staid compared with Cece's wild ones...this is a funny, original, well-plotted murder mystery."

"Beauty-queen-turned-biographer Cece Caruso...and her two best gal pals head to the desert for a mystery conference that includes a real live corpse...Fact-filled and funny: a worthy successor to Cece's bright debut."

"Readers will be reminded of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum when they read Susan Kandel's Cece Caruso capers as both are funny, plagued by romantic problems and once on the scent of a killer, keep tracking like obsessed bloodhounds... This is a very special amateur sleuth tale that will be a hit with readers who love a good puzzle to solve."

"Susan Kandel, who pulled off a remarkable link between past and present in her first mystery, "I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason," does the same honorable and entertaining service in her second."

"Take a shot of Nancy Drew, add a dash of Mary Kay Andrews and a generous splash of L.A. glam, then put them in the blender on frappe. Voila! Out comes the fun and frothy "Not a Girl Detective"... As much classic fun as Cece's vintage wardrobe.. colorful characters and a well-paced story."

"Susan Kandel celebrates Nancy's birthday with her novel inspired by Ms.Drew... Kandel offers up a race against time, a nail-biting chase and some unexpected twists and turns."

"There's lots of fun Nancy Drew lore in this airy entertainment...a light-hearted tribute."

"Cece Caruso returns in Kandel's second zany mystery..."

“Here’s a cool, refreshingly tart summer read. Not a Girl Detective is Susan Kandel’s second mystery featuring sleuth and vintage-clothing fanatic Cece Caruso. While writing a book about the Nancy Drew detective series, Cece stumbles onto a murder mystery that might make Nancy leap into her blue roadster and speed far away. Pick of the Week.”

"Hip, feisty Cece Caruso is back... The characters are deliciously drawn, the pace is snappy, and the plot twists and turns will keep mystery lovers satisfied. As entertaining as Cece and the other characters are, the icing on the cake is the depth of Kandel’s research...While those who grew up with the girl detective are the ideal audience, Cece’s wit and tenacity as she breezes around Los Angeles and Palm Springs make the novel an enjoyable read for anyone in the mood for a lighthearted mystery."

bottom of page