Portrait of a Dead Guy - Larissa Reinhart
*I won this as a First Reads Giveaway.*

I really liked this book. It was so fun and enjoyable. I finished it in two settings but if I had the time I would've finished it in one. I didn't want to put it down. I was guessing until the end whodunit and that's so important for me. I hate when I can see who did it early on, especially with a bumbling stupid cast set around to make the story work. That's so not the case here. The miss steps and misleads are understandable and the reader makes them along with Cherry.

The characters all popped out and felt real. Cherry is are strong lead woman who has clear flaws but she's loveable and trying to do the right thing. Her family isn't perfect but they are family. They annoy each other but band together when there's trouble. There is the love triangle thing going on which has become a staple in these kind of books. It often becomes annoying with the indecisive back and forth. However, Cherry clearly has her mind about her and knows what she wants. She just had a bit of trouble getting her backbone to work with her. She's feminine but not the stereotypical princess. She's country but not the stereotypical redneck. She's southern but not the stereotypical Southern bell nor the Southern Cross flag loving moron. She's real and I love her for it. She's an artist and it colors how she views thing and the author loving helped paint it. Honestly, Cherry is one of my new favorite characters, for all of these reasons and more.

I like the setting. I know how things get twisted in small towns, how everyone knows everything about everyone while pretending not to and the futility of fighting against the flow. Now this small town setting is common but is often idealized. I love the realistic portrayal here. The town and it's people are still engaging, still lovable (or hateable) and really gives you a good idea how small towns really work. It's still understandable why people live there and love it, but there are no illusions used to get this across, it's reality is enough.

It was also a nice break to get a book with working poor people as the cast. I mean really, in a small town there's the one person who owns everything due to inheriting and the rest of us are struggling to get along usually. That was the case in my small town and that's the case here. It's nice to get an honest look and portrayal of people like this, like me. It's refreshing and I loved it. Even city slickers will love it, it's not too above their understanding. ;-) /joke

This book is really beautifully written. The author has a wonderful voice, that lends itself so well to her characters. This sentence "The object of my desire, Todd's functioning vehicle, jerked to a stop at the curb while the object of my ire bounded up the slope to my porch." is such a great example. I love it. There's other examples but you should experience it for yourself.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next book. My only real hesitation I feel is due to being lead on and disappointed with the continuation of other series. *cough Stephanie Plum cough* However, this is a stunning debut. It will draw you in and you'll fall in love with this book. If you're feeling disappointed and disenchanted, Portrait of a Dead Guy will renew your love for this genre.