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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Dying to be Thin by Kathryn Lilley

It is New Years Eve and many people set resolutions for the new year ahead of them.  In that vein I wanted to read a book whose theme is a resolution a vast majority of us have at one time or another made (I know I have) - loosing weight.  The diet industry is worth billions of dollars in the US, so weight issues are a theme that speak to many of us.  According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), obesity in adults has increased by 60% within the past twenty years and obesity in children has tripled in the past thirty years. A staggering 33% of American adults are obese.  Yes, weight issues are a topic most of us can relate with.  Enjoy this review of a relatively new mystery series that weaves the battle of the bulge in with murder and sleuthing in a humorus way.

Author: Kathryn Lilley

Copyright: 2007 (Obsidian); 283 pgs.

Series: #1 in Fat City mysteries

Sensuality: Adult themes and references

Mystery sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Award Winning, Plus-sized TV News Producer Kate Gallagher

Setting: Weight-loss Clinic in Durham North Carolina

Part of a Challenge: Fall/Winter Mystery Reading Challenge

Obtained book through: Library Find

Move over “The Biggest Loser”, the Fat City Mysteries are here!

In Boston Massachusetts Kate Gallagher is laid off from work and dumped by her boyfriend (for a size 2 girl) all in a week’s span. She decides to turn this negative into a positive by setting her sights on being in front of the camera from now on. Kate has been told she has the “face” to do it with her high cheekbones, blue eyes and auburn hair but not the body, so she has to drop some weight – but she needs help doing it. So Kate arranges to stay at the Hoffman Weight Loss Clinic in Durham NC (aka the Diet Capital of the World – for real – since the Rice Diet in the 1930s started there.) Kate manages a deal with a local TV news station to produce and star in a feature about her own weight loss story to supplement her income since the clinic costs a good bit.

The founder and director of the weight loss clinic, Dr. Hoffman, seems particularly caustic to his clients and Kate finds his body her first morning. He is on the front porch with skewers in his eyes. Kate finds herself on the inside investigating the murder and producing two simultaneous stories for the local news. Things start getting complicated when Kate finds her pulse accelerated by both the attractive British accented Police Detective and a wealthy Lawyer representing the clinic’s new director. Kate quickly finds out she is in a vulnerable position, as the murderer doesn’t like her investigative reporting, especially when she uncovers the Director had a S&M private life including clients and employees. That makes the dieters at the clinic and the employees all suspects.
But first I had to make it out of the newsroom. It would be a tricky maneuver. The exit path would take me past the snack machines again, where danger lurked.

To get prepared, I took a deep breath and lashed myself mentally to the mast, like Odysseus. Then I set sail around Vending Machine Island. And once again, I managed to survive the siren call of the Ho Hos.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Reed fastened his eyes on me. “A sane person would find someplace else to sleep tonight.”

“True, but we broadcast types aren’t all that sane; didn’t you get the memo?” I joked, trying not to sound the way I was feeling, which was scared stiff. “Remember we’re the ones who stand outside during hurricanes, shouting into a microphone.” I mimed a reporter battling a headwind. “Well Anderson, the wind is really starting to blow now!”

A grin cracked through Reed’s on-the-job face. “You’re right, you people are insane,” he said.
Kate is a great heroine, down to earth and gutsy with a sense of humor. The beginning of each chapter has short diet insights, supposedly pinned by a friend of Kate’s who used to be big and passed along her tips. The plot isn’t overly complicated but meaty enough to sink your teeth into (I couldn’t resist!) The writing is equally on par for an amateur sleuth with just enough humor paired with investigative zeal and a pinch of gritty crime. Subplots are woven in such as Kate’s interfering and overprotective father, her best friend who is a cop back in Boston, and Kate’s personal struggle with dieting. The ending was satisfying and wrapped up nicely (while no big twist ending) while leaving Kate the dilemma of two guys interested in her.

The author’s strong point is how she brings Kate to life. Kate is a gal who could be every woman and yet she seems a distinct individual in the novel. A solid story with a refreshing and realistic heroine meshed with a good story line told in an entertaining first person narrative and you have a new series to watch. This series has the potential to heat up and become a sensation. I am looking forward to reading all of the series (thus far only three but promising more.)

For your convenience, you may purchase a copy here.

I wish you health and happiness in the new year - and many mysterious moments.
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Ann Elle Altman said...

That seems like a great book. I like the diet tips at the beginning of each chapter. Great idea. Should give the book to my husband.


Kaye said...

This sounds like a super fun book! I want to wish you and yours a most happy, healthy and joyous new year. Happy reading and blogging. May all your reads be 5 star!

A.F. Heart said...

Thanks Ann and Kaye,

Happy reading in the new year - and much health, happiness and contentment too.

AF Heart

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