Naked Came the Phoenix - J.A. Jance, Anne Perry, Diana Gabaldon, Laurie R. King, Marcia Talley, Lisa Scottoline, Nancy Pickard, Mary Jane Clark, Nevada Barr, Perri O'Shaughnessy, Faye Kellerman, Pam O'Shaughnessy, Mary O'Shaughnessy, J.D. Robb, Val McDermid Naked Came The Phoenix was a book selection for two of my local reading groups because we were intrigued by its unusual format. Twelve bestselling mystery and suspense author joined together to contribute a chapter to this murder-mystery, soap-opera. The catch? Each other must pick up where the last left off and continue the story using the same cast of characters, all of who get zanier as the story progresses.

The opening chapter written by Nevada Barr sets up the story and, in my opinion, was the driest, dullest entry in the entire book. It’s here that the lifeless main characters are introduced (luckily they don’t stay that way!). After the recent death of her father, Caroline, wife of a big shot Congressman, agrees to spend some quality bonding time with her difficult mother at a high-end health spa. Caroline’s fellow guests at the spa include an aging rock legend, a quirky psychic, a starving model and loads of other oddballs and Hollywood “it” types.

After the slow start, JD Robb picks up the tempo in chapter two. She breaths life into Caroline’s character by bringing her down to earth in a funny little adventure brought about by hunger. She also adds a hunky pool-boy to the ever growing list of characters and kicks things into high gear by killing off the snooty spa owner.

Things get silly as each character seems to harbor some dirty secret and the murder count becomes ridiculously high as each author adds their own little twists and turns to the story and attempts to pick up where the previous author left off. A friend of mine described the characters as “manic depressives” and she was right on. Each character switches moods and personalities from chapter to chapter which only added to the sense of fun. Eventually, all dangling threads and over-the-top plot twists were neatly brought together by author Laurie King.

I’d read another book like Naked Came The Phoenix for the fun factor alone. But would I read this one again? Umm, probably not.