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by Kate White
Warner Books, May 2004
320 pages
ISBN: 0446531758

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Bailey Weggins works as a true-crime reporter for one of New York's most prestigious women's magazines, Gloss. When she receives a call from Ashley Hanes, she expects to be hit up for tickets to a fashion show. Instead, Ashley wants to discuss the details of Peyton Cross's wedding, where they both served as bridesmaids.

Peyton, Bailey's college roommate, desperately wants to position herself as Martha Stewart's successor, and she matches Martha's temper at least as well as she dishes out household expertise. Peyton was an obnoxious, controlling bride and Bailey is not eager to relive the wedding experience, but Ashley insists.

When they meet, Ashley tells Bailey that two of the other bridesmaids have died under suspicious circumstances in the past few weeks. Jamie, a former food writer, was electrocuted in her bathtub when her CD player slipped into the water, and Robin, who once ran Peyton's retail store in Connecticut, died due to ingesting a food that reacted with her anti-depressants. Ashley is terrified that she'll be the killer's next victim and begs Bailey for help. Bailey is intrigued by Ashley's story and a little worried. If the bridesmaids really are being murdered, might she herself be in danger?

Bailey agrees to drive up to Connecticut to visit Peyton with Ashley, who is working on the interior design of a silo that Peyton hopes to turn into a gallery. While Bailey is busy talking with Peyton in the main kitchen, Ashley falls to her death in the silo. Now Bailey is really worried. Half of the bridesmaids have died, and Bailey can no longer dismiss the deaths as a bizarre coincidence as the police do. She realizes that she must get to the bottom of the murders before she becomes victim number four.

The story clips along through the world of rich brokers and socialites, taking many a satisfying twist and turn along the way. White's breezy, girl-talk style engages the reader from the first sentence with its familiar magazine cadences. Bailey is a feisty sleuth, and White is clearly at home in the world she writes about. I loved the character's names: you just know that people with names like Bailey, Jamie, Robin, Peyton, Maverick, Ashley, Phillipa, and Trip come from a different planet than the one the rest of us live on.

As White -- the real-life editor of Cosmopolitan magazine -- puts it, in that world women have "cheekbones so high and sharp, you'd risk a paper cut if you got too close to them." She makes it a treat to see how the trust-fund set live through the Bailey's jealously cynical eyes. I only wish that White hadn't cluttered the book with Jack, the love interest. I thought the scenes between Bailey and Jack seem forced and improbable. Still, she's given us an entertaining, well-written story that surpasses most of what her competition has produced.

Reviewed by Carroll Johnson, March 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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