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by Sarah Steding
Pocket Books, June 2013
344 pages
ISBN: 1451684681

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jen Stevens, event planner extraordinaire, has everything for the party honoring Bess Brantwood planned down to the last detail - everything that is except the star of the evening who is a no show for her own party. Among the Yummy Channel's viewers, Bess Brantwood is queen. Not only does she consistently draw huge audiences for her show, the cupcakes she develops and sells in her bakery are truly divine. Unfortunately, she is not so divine to work with and so, when she turns up dead in the alley behind the bakery, there aren't too many of her coworkers grieving.

As set-ups go for an amateur sleuth to become involved in a police case, this is probably one of the more plausible ones I've run across. Jen worked for the victim, planned the event, knows all the key persons involved and last, but certainly not least, used to date one of the "persons of interest" who has gone AWOL since the murder. It is quite logical that she would be questioned and later re-interviewed for follow up details. Are there some things that happen that no way would really happen? Certainly, but as far as a reason for the protagonist to become involved in the investigation in the first place, this one is fairly plausible.

The protagonist in the book is very real. Jen who works around food all day, is thirty pounds overweight and decides to go on a no carbs diet. Buoyed by her successful exercise outing with a friend, Jen signs up for a lunchtime yoga class - only when she arrives the receptionist sends her to the wrong class. I have a feeling some readers are going to relate to Jen's experience and even those who don't surely will feel Jen's embarrassment. One of the most dead-on realistic scenes in the book happens when Jen has invited her former roomie over for lunch and the friend wonders where's the food? The ensuing conversation is one played out everyday between dieting people and their friends and family.

There are, as readers have grown to expect, recipes at the end of the book. These are pretty unusual as recipes go. One would not expect a book with a dieting protagonist to include a recipe for something called "Fiesta Friday Pork Rind Nachos!" I skipped that particular one, but did make the Spicy Salisbury Steak which was quick, easy and quite good. If you like food with your mysteries, A DIET TO DIE FOR might be for you.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, June 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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