Feisty Tish Ballard packs a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson in her designer jeans and manages several high-end rental properties in the Northern California seaside town of Cypress Bay. The most luxurious, Casa Blanca, is about to be rented to an actress whose feature film is being shot nearby. Delilah Ward is young, gorgeous, and recently out of rehab. When Tish finds the oceanfront mansion trashed the first day, she reads the riot act to the Hollywood starlet. Delilah, to her surprise, is contrite, and promises it won’t happen again. Indeed, it doesn’t, because Delilah is dead by the end of the week, sprawled out on a lounge chair in a bikini with a bullet in her head.
Determined to find out what happened, Tish uses Delilah’s personal assistant, Briana Sweeney, to obtain access to the movie set, where she meets the crew and cast who were closest to the victim. Director Karol Bartosz’s mourning period is brief, and he immediately casts another actress, Taylor Ramsey, in Delilah’s role. The only one genuinely upset seems to be Greta Nyland, Delilah’s sister-in-law and director of the actress’s charitable foundation. Meanwhile, Tish discovers Delilah may have been romantically involved with actor Brent Harding (whose wife is expecting twins), as well as leading man Liam Brady. Even when suspicion falls on Tish’s brother, Arthur, the detective on the case, Spence Breedlove, wants her to stay out of his investigation. Breedlove and Tish have an unpleasant history together that dates back to their high school days.
Swimsuit Body is the second in the Cypress Bay Mysteries by author Eileen Goudge, and it packs a big punch with a surprising ending. Lead character Tish Ballard is engaging and never lets up, even when everything conspires against her. It is a fun read as well as a little peek into the crazy world of moviemaking.