Playing With The Bad Boys - A Mia Ferrari Mystery #1

Rated 4.33/5 based on 6 reviews
A woman plunges ten floors down an atrium and lands on a baby grand piano in the luxurious Rourke Hotel Sydney. The police rule this as a straight case of suicide; but 48-year-old hotel duty manager and wannabe investigator, Mia Ferrari, thinks otherwise.

As Mia sets out to unravel the mysterious death, she comes up against an unsavoury cast of characters who will do anything to shut her up. More
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About Sylvia Massara

Sylvia Massara is a multi-genre author based in Sydney, Australia. She loves to dabble in wacky love affairs, drama, murder, scifi (and anything else that takes her fancy) over good coffee.

Born in Argentina from Italian descent and with a fusion of Spanish, Swiss and Scandinavian lineage, plus transplanted to Australia at age ten, Sylvia describes herself as a bit of a moggie cat by way of mixed pedigree. She is also a citizen of the world as she has travelled widely throughout most of her life and she's the proud owner of three passports.

As with most authors, Sylvia draws on her varied experience from the often puzzling tapestry of life. She loves nature and communing with the animal kingdom (as her pampered kitty, Mia, will attest) and vicariously through the many characters inside her head. Occasionally, however, Sylvia ventures into the world of humans, albeit for a limited time as she prefers the unconditional and genuine company which animals bring to our planet.

Currently, Sylvia has a number of projects on the go, but she's waiting for her muse to make up his mind and settle on one.

Learn more about Sylvia Massara


Learn more about Mia Ferrari
She's a smartarse and a wisearse wannabe investigator with a chip on her shoulder about cops. She's an older female super sleuth who likes coffee, Ferraris and younger men.

Also in Series: The Mia Ferrari Mysteries

Also by This Author

Reviews of Playing With The Bad Boys - A Mia Ferrari Mystery #1 by Sylvia Massara

Jenny Peyton reviewed on Dec. 6, 2013

I won the paperback version of this book in a "Mia Ferrari Mysteries" giveaway, but I am also leaving a review on this site as the giveaway included a coupon for this site so I could share it with other friends.

I found this a very entertaining and fast paced story with interesting characters plus your typical bad guys, and those in between. The story is a page-turner, and I read the book in 2 days. The story kept me guessing right through to the end.

Mia Ferrari is a tough, somewhat cynical heroine with a chip on her shoulder. She very much reflects the characters of 1940s detective films. This is how the author describes Mia Ferrari: a woman with flaws, who doesn't suffer fools gladly, and who can sometimes be hard.

I enjoyed reading about Mia because she's different, and not at all like the cookie-cutter protagonists I see in other novels these days. Mia is an individual who will do as she wishes, even if she sometimes has to get up to no good. She's been hurt in the past, and she's put up with a lot of crap, but she still retains a good heart for those she cares about.

I also liked the fact that Mia is an older woman (late 40s), and this goes toward making her someone who is a little jaded, but also independent, determined, and one who never gives up.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Alex Fairfax reviewed on May 8, 2013

Sorry - but I'm going to have to go against the trend on this one. There are a lot of good things about this mystery. It is competently written, some of the minor characters are good (though there are a few cardboard ones as well), the end of chapters are intriguing and make you want to turn the page, the setting – in a high-class hotel – is convincing, and the identity of the murderer was a genuine, and well-contrived, surprise.

Unfortunately, the main character, Mia Ferrari, is just about the most unsympathetic character I have ever come across. I suspect the author meant her as an assertive independent woman, but she comes across as petulant, out of control and highly unpleasant. Her immediate reaction to anyone saying or doing something she doesn’t like is to contemplate hitting, slapping, strangling, throttling or pouring her coke over them; she boasts that her martial arts are good enough to do some serious damage to someone. She has a violent antipathy to the investigating police office simply because she suspects (but has no proof) that he blocked her application to be a police officer some years previously. This leads her to keep facts from the police and even to get angry because the police have walked off with the evidence. (Isn’t that what they are supposed to do?) She prides herself on being admired by everyone – even the police officer she hates.

I don’t insist on the central character in a book being sympathetic but not only did I not warm to Mia, I positively hated her by the end.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)
Parents' Little Black Book Reviews reviewed on May 14, 2012

When an exclusive international hotel chain hosts a party for the rich and famous, everything must be perfect. The food, the service, the body on the grand piano. Wait, that's not right. That doesn't seem to be on the menu or part of the entertainment.

Mia Ferrari is a hotel executive, a frustrated detective and a woman in the midst of a divorce. The daughter of a cop, Mia always wanted to follow in his footsteps. But all is not lost. Mia has a real life murder mystery to solve, or maybe not; the police think it was suicide. Determined to prove them wrong, she enlists the help of her family friend, co-worker and ex-cop. Is she right or does her animosity against the police chief cloud her judgement.

As if investigating foul play isn't enough on her plate she has to deal with a temperamental chef, an ex-boyfriend who is the owner of the hotel and his 18 year old son who does IT on a part-time basis. Emotional complications abound.

So do drug deals, love affairs, internet intrigue, international criminals, sexy cars and younger men.

Mia is a wonderful character who at 48 has a take-no-prisoners attitude. She is witty, gutsy, brave and headstrong. To ease her mind and relax, she cooks. Italian food. For that alone she has my vote for Hotelier of the Year.

The writing is tight with good flow and character development. The dialogue moves the plot forward effortlessly without needless narration or explanation. The twists and turns in the story are well done and the clues are inserted with seamless ease.

Although the author is Australian and the book is set in Sydney, Australia the novel has been re-edited to American English and vernacular for the U. S. market. Very well edited I might add.

Karen Bryant Doering,
Parents' Little Black Book
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Nicole Chardenet reviewed on May 1, 2012

Not going to recap the story since other reviewers already have...Playing With The Bad Boys is a fun murder mystery involving a sexy if very snoopy hotel manager with frustrated dreams of working on the police force (although I say you're never too old to start, so maybe she should re-apply :) Mia Ferrari doesn't get along with the police chief either, whom she blames for her not being on the force to begin with. And, she had an affair with her boss once a long long time ago in Venice so the "office dynamics", such as they are in a large ritzy hotel in Australia, are, um, a little, um, delicate sometimes. I liked the heroine - a total wiseacre who's pushing fifty and is not afraid to take on a younger man. Who says life ends at forty?!?! It doesn't even get STARTED until fifty!!

I've read a few of Ms. Massara's other books and I can say her storytelling is clearly evolving. The writing is polished and crisp and the main character eminently likeable. I LOVED her sidekick, a retired American cop who is forever being dragged along reluctantly into Mia's schemes. For a first-time murder mystery, this one is a score. And oh, if you're an Italian foodie (meaning you're into Italian food, not a foodie who's Italian) you will looooove the Italian food porn! But most of all, I liked seeing a kick-ass, middle-aged woman as the heroine, someone who doesn't take any crap and who aspires to be more than she is after a nasty divorce. I would like to see more fiction with these sorts of characters!
(reviewed 57 days after purchase)
marie giovenco reviewed on April 23, 2012

Review by: Maria Giovenco, 24th April, 2012
Another great book by Sylvia Massara, her character Mia Ferrari is one of a kind lady. Absolutly loved the book, especially towards the end, I could not stop reading until I found out who killed Linda Liu! Sylvia kept me guessing all the way to the end of the story. I would never have worked out who the killer was. You just have to read it yourself and see if you can solve the mystery!!
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)
marie giovenco reviewed on April 23, 2012
(no rating)
Absolutely loved Mia Ferrari, great read, the plot kept you guessing all the way until the end, and I would never have guessed who the killer was! I give the book five stars. At the end you just had to know what happens and you cannot stop reading until you find out who killed Linda Liu.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)
Darcia Helle reviewed on March 16, 2012

Mia Ferrari is a fun and adventurous woman in her late forties. In this first book in the series, she leads us through a tangled web as she plods along in her quest for answers.

I really enjoyed Mia's character, as well as her supporting cast. At times this book made me laugh. Other times I'd find myself nodding in understanding. The pace is quick, the mystery a bit of a whodunit that allows readers to figure things out along with Mia.
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)

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