"'Til Death Do Us Part"
(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Spear AUG 22, 2004)
Bailey Weggens thought the worst danger she would suffer from being a bridesmaid in her old roommate Peyton Cross’s wedding would be dying of embarrassment from being swathed in her brilliant yellow bridesmaid's dress. When Ashley Hanes, one of her fellow bridesmaids, calls and asks for a meeting, Bailey thinks that she wants a fashion- or publishing-related favor. It’s not that at all...the Ashley she meets is not the cool, slightly snobbish preppy, but a woman in fear for her life. Two of the bridesmaids from the wedding have died in freak accidents, and Ashley thinks that she may very well be next.
Bailey looks into it, but doesn’t have much hope...then Ashley joins the ranks of dead by freak accident, and Bailey is being stalked by a mysterious man. The police, with no evidence, are less than willing to believe her that something could be wrong, and Bailey finds herself struggling to put the pieces together before some convenient accident happens to her.
‘Til Death do us Part has all of the things that made the previous books so much fun, combined with a fascinating mystery that really challenges the reader. We’re prone to believe that these aren’t just accidents because of the very nature of the story. (If they were accidents, where would the plot be?) But Bailey is still in a position where she doesn’t just have to prove it to the police, herself, and her friends, but she still has to convince us as well. There’s a lot of work to make things fall together right. Along the way we also have all the other reasons as to why we picked up this book to read, besides the case...the witty, realistic first person narrative and the interesting and sharply (sometimes not complementary) characterization. We also get an interesting look at her real life...her relationship with Jack, who can’t seem to leave psychoanalysis at the place where he teaches, her relationship with Landon, her confidante, and Cat, her editor and friend.
We also get a look at the life of a would be domestic diva, which is timely, with all the Martha Stewart wanna be’s rushing to fill in her space. It’s kind of fun, to live vicariously (as in a way Bailey herself does...she certainly can’t afford the luxuries they can...) in a world where everything is done to perfection Everything, from the glass you’re holding to the contents of it, is created to be the most refined in taste and style. I don’t think it’s a life I could live...none of my towels match, let alone my sheets. And let’s not get started on the china closet...
A pleasant read in which you can’t stop turning the pages, as much as for seeing the world through Bailey’s eyes and hearing her observations, as for the mystery
- Amazon readers rating: from 22 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from 'Til Death Do Us Part at TWBookmarks.com(back to top)
"A Body to Die For"
(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer OCT 05, 2003)
"The noise must have flipped a switch in my brain, because suddenly I recalled the thud I'd heard when I'd first gone looking for my watch. Had it been the sound of a struggle, I wondered, of someone holding the dead woman down as he tried to wrap the paper around her? Or was it her flopping on the floor, trying to free herself after he'd fled? I felt a wave of guilt roll over me. At the time, I'd told myself the thud might be from someone cleaning up--but then I'd discovered that the spa was empty. If only the sound had raised more of an alarm in me, if only I'd informed the front desk about it. If I'd done something, the woman in the massage room might still be alive."
Freelance reporter Bailey Weggins is more than happy to go visit her old friend Danny Hubner. She's fresh from some rather nasty adventures, (as detailed in If Looks Could Kill) as nasty heartbreak, and just generally stressed out. Danny is the owner of a trendy spa that is some parts Asian themed, some parts chic bed and breakfast, and while Bailey isn't thrilled about sitting around wrapped in gourmet sounding concoctions, she really could use a massage.
But there's always a catch, isn't there? And this one is a doosey...when Bailey returns to her room after getting a late massage, she notices that her father's watch -- a keepsake that is invaluable to her -- is missing, and she thinks she must have left it behind in the massage room. She finally convinces someone to take her into the now-deserted building to get it, and discovers a dead body, wrapped like a birthday present. Her failed attempts to save the young woman, a popular, if cold in demeanor, massage therapist are not the only things that makes Bailey feel like she has an investment in solving the case. Her mother, who is also a friend of Danny's (they were room mates in college) warned Bailey that something was wrong with their friend. Bailey not only has to discover who killed Anna, but if there are any other shady dealings going on behind Danny's back.
Bailey, since her forte is investigational reporting, (mostly crime stories and a few human interest pieces) seems to be perfectly prepared to deal with this. Figuring out possible embezzlement schemes and murder plots are pretty easy...compared to trying to figure out what's going on with the men in her life. The romantic subplot adds a lot to the story...not only because of the tension and other elements inherent in a romantic sub plot (It's typical feast or famine for Bailey as she struggles with her attraction to the sexy lead detective on the case, Detective Beck, and the renewing of her flame with Jack, whose recent actions have left her wondering if there is a relationship left at all.) but because the way she talks about it. As with everything she speaks about, her tone is sassy. Fun, sensible with a definite sarcastic edge. For instance, when Jack comes back into her life for the first time:
"It's really great to see you, Bailey," he said.
"Thanks," I said. It was sort of a dumb reply, but what should I have said -- "it's great to see you, too?" Seeing him made me sad and mad. Plus, I had no idea what bomb he was about to drop. Maybe he wasn't here to officially dump me. Maybe he figured we were long past that and he'd come for something else, like a favor. Maybe he was planning to move to the city and wanted me to suggest a freakin' real estate agent or a decorator."
A voice like this also lends a great deal of intimacy to the prose. I felt like she was a person like me, dealing with the same often times silly, often times awkward things that we deal with every day. Except, thankfully, I've never found a dead body. It's a very attractive narration because it lends itself to deadpan humor as well as closeness. It's very hard not to care about what's happening with her, whether it be someone following her in the woods, or if she's going to get her article turned in on time.
The mystery itself unravels fairly well. The clues she follows lead to some pretty good twists...the voice combined with this makes it pretty hard to put down. Also, when you take into account the author's own experiences (she's the Editor in Chief of Cosmo) you see that she brings some fun and interesting perspectives in with her that add nice touches to the story.
This is a very good book...and a very girly one. I think that's wonderful, because it has the chick lit quality combined with a great mystery. It will definitely appeal to fans of both genres.
- Amazon readers rating: from 36 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from A Body To Die For at MostlyFiction.com(back to top)
"If Looks Could Kill"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark APR 28, 2002)
Thirty three-year-old Bailey Weggins is "ga-ga" over K.C., the man she is "spooning" with in her Greenwhich Village apartment bed on this early Sunday morning in May. O.K., it's not as completely relaxing as it should be. The relationship is still very new and she worries that she'll "mess up the delicate ecosystem of the moment" by saying the wrong thing and sending the man running. But before she finds out if K.C. was planning to take her to breakfast or not, she gets a frantic call for help from Cat Jones, her employer and friend at Gloss magazine.
Now Cat has been known to get hysterical "when the dry cleaners pressed the seams wrong in her pants," so Bailey isn't too concerned when Cat says that her nanny, Heidi, won't answer a knock on her door. Cat being the kind of woman who gets everything she wants, means that Bailey agrees to interrupt her Sunday morning to help. Still not expecting any kind of crisis, Bailey catches a cab uptown to 91st Street to go look inside the nanny's apartment.
When she opens the door to Heidi's apartment, she's hit with the sour smell of vomit and the stink of feces. After covering her face with her sweater, Bailey heads in to look for Heidi and finds her lying on the floor next to the couch. The beautiful girl has waxy pale skin, open eyes and a vomit-encrusted mouth. She is dead proving Cat's instinct as uncannily right.
So now Bailey is really involved. She is successful as a true crime reporter because she seems to have a sixth sense at seeing things as they really are, thus getting at the bottom of a mystery even when the local police do not. So Cat asks her to snoop around, find what she can on Heidi's life, before the whole thing blows publicly. Bailey figures Cat just wants someone on her side, but agrees to help out. Besides, when else would she have a chance to be at the center of the action that involves a corpse?
Yet, was Heidi the intended corpse? It doesn't take too long to realize that Heidi was not involved in drugs or excessive alcohol. Instead, as the police prove, she was binging on a box of what appeared to be Godiva chocolates but what were actually homemade chocolates in a Godiva box --- laced with poison. It seems to be the same box of chocolates that appeared as a gift during a party the previous Thursday night. Unfortunately it seems that Heidi was caught pilfering food from Cat one too many times.
So Bailey begins a very systematic search to find Heidi's killer starting with the list from Thursday night's party to see who might want to kill Cat Jones --- of which there is no shortage of people to suspect. As chief of one of the largest women's magazines, living in a gorgeous town house in Manhattan with a "hot-looking" husband and basically able and willing to go after anything she wants, Cat is an easy woman to hate.
Never mind that, Bailey can't absolutely rule out Cat as a murderess. There are way too many unanswered questions such as why did Cat think Heidi was in trouble? And why wasn't Cat with her husband and two-year-old son that weekend? And what about Cat's husband, Jeff? Heidi was a beautiful young woman; maybe life wasn't so perfect for Cat and Jeff... Then, the case takes a new twist and adds one more possibility. It comes to light that another magazine editor died from poisonous mushrooms a half year earlier. So could this be part of a movie-like plot against the Women's Magazine Editors of Manhattan?
I like the way Bailey Weggins explores the many possibilities at once (as well as continuing her work on a poltergeist article). This is not the type of mystery where the protagonist follows a set of clues in a fairly straight line and then at the end we are either logically led to the murderer or we take a sharp left and are surprised by the murderer. No, in this one everyone is a suspect right up until they are conclusively eliminated, leaving, well, uh, just two possibilities. And more often than not, we find Bailey echoing our own thoughts about what something means or what she should check next. Now that I think about it, this is a clever trick to keep us feeling good about our own sleuthing skills without ever feeling that Bailey is getting ahead or overlooking something important. If I were to write this kind of mystery, I would want to dissect this technique since it really adds to the pleasure of reading a mystery.
This mystery is also fun because it is in New York City. One of the things that I'm most fascinated with about living in the city is that you don't drive --- which I would love. I've spent just enough time in the city to know the jostle of the subway or the motion of a cab, but I have not been there enough to feel comfortable at any of this. So with Bailey, I was vicariously getting around the city with confidence. It's the extra detail that the author gives to make you feel like you are taking a cab with cup of coffee or the ease in which you can know where you are going. "I told the cabdriver to head up Central Park West, then cut through the park, and that I'd provide him with the exact destination in a sec. As we sped around Columbus Circle I called Cat on my cell phone..."
The other thing that I like is that the novel does carry some beauty tips here and there. Not too many, but the few there are seemed to be things I always wanted to know; but I won't mention them here because I don't want to reveal that much about myself! Moreover, I feel that I'm now with the thirty-something lingo because I know what a "booty call" is. It turns out it was something my friends and I would resort to at that age, but we didn't have a name for it (just guilt). And finally, you wouldn't expect a novel that centers on the editor of one of the "seven sisters" women's magazines not be a little catty, especially when it comes to fashion attire. Fortunately, it is not overdone since Bailey is merely being observant rather than hurtful. But it is a world in which one notices attire and accessories --- and weight gain.
If you don't know whom the author Kate White is, let me tell you - she is the Editor in Chief at Cosmopolitan magazine. That's right! So who better to write a "Sex in the City meets Nancy Drew" mystery that takes place in the New York City publishing world? We know from the non-fiction books that she's published that she knows how to go after anything she wants and get it. Hmmm.... just like Cat (Catherine) Jones... anything seem familiar about this name? That Kate White would choose to write a novel in which the main character works for a Chief Editor and not be the Chief Editor gives the book a little extra sass. After all, Bailey Weggins is never quite sure if Cat is treating her as a friend or someone who is convenient to the task.
Before I read this novel, I was skeptical when this book made the new Live with Regis and Kelly book club as its debut selection. I figured they were just promoting one of their friends. But Reading with Ripa intends to select "fun, light-hearted reads, rather than heavy, message-laden books." So I guess I would have to agree with Kelly Ripa that If Looks Could Kill is a perfect and worthy debut to her new book club. I bet it ends up on lots of Summer Reading List as well. Just one more reason to hate Kate White - she wants to write mysteries, so she does it, and she does it perfectly well. That takes talent, not just guts.
- Amazon readers rating: from 102 reviews
Read an excerpt from If Looks Could Kill at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)Bailey Weggins series:
- If Looks Could Kill (May 2002)
- A Body to Die For (June 2003)
- Till Death Do Us Part (May 2004)
- Over Her Dead Body (July 2005)
- Lethally Blonde (February 2009)
- Hush (March 2010)
- Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do (1995)
- Nine Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want (1998)
- How to Set His Thighs on Fire: 86 Red-Hot Lessons on Love, Life, Men and (Especially) Sex (June 2006)
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- Official Web site for Kate White
- BookReporter.com review of If Looks Could Kill
- Curled Up review of If Looks Could Kill
- BookReporter.com review of A Body to Die For
- Curled Up review of A Body to Die For
- Bookloons review of 'Til Death Do Us Part
- Reviewing the Evidence review of 'Til Death Do Us Part
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About the Author:
Kate White is the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Kate got her start in magazines at Glamour, after winning the magazine's Top Ten College Woman contest and appearing on the cover. She went on to hold key jobs at a variety of national magazines and eventually became editor in chief of Child, Working Woman and Redbook. During this time she wrote the two best selling non-fiction books. After she had run Redbook for four years, she was asked by her boss at the Hearst Corporation to take over Cosmopolitan, the flagship magazine in the company and one of the most successful magazines in the world. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Helen Gurley Brown, Kate has stayed true to the mission of the magazine but has modernized it and added many new features. Since she has been at Cosmo it has become the number one selling magazine on the newsstand in the U.S.
Kate fell in love with Nancy Drew mysteries at the age of 12, devoured every one of them and as an adult went on to read all the major stars of the genre. She became a true murder mystery junkie. She also began to fantasize about creating her own amateur sleuth. By this time, though, she'd broken into the magazine business and she just didn't seem to have the time or energy to write fiction. But throughout these years Kate never lost her yearning to write a mystery. Several years ago she realized that if she didn't get around to doing it, it would never happen so she decided to finally carve out the time for it.
Kate lives in New York City with her husband and two teenage kids. She says her kids have been incredibly understanding of her love of the macabre and may be two of the only children who have happily gone on the Jack the Ripper Tour in London.