Fit to Die: A Supper Club Mystery
By J. B. Stanley
Large Trade Paperback
This second book in the supper club mystery series brings readers back to the small town of Quincy's Gap, Virginia. Home of James Henry, Lucy, (who is an object of romance for Henry if he can just work up his nerve) Lindy, Gillian and Bennett who together are known as the Flab Five. For the group food and dieting is a constant issue. The recent holidays were less than helpful and with spring in the air, they all know that they need to work on their diets.
As it happens, Veronica Levitt has moved to their town and is about to open "Witness to Fitness." Combining exercise and foods bought through her, the persuasive and vibrant Veronica "Ronnie" Levitt promises to make the Flab Five leaner, stronger and definably sexier within the next six weeks. All they, and her other customers have to do is join her program at "Witness to Fitness" by eating her food, keeping a food journal, attending counseling and weighting sessions and attending at least three exercise classes a week and it isn't going to be cheap. Not only will it cost serious money there are absolutely no refunds.
Also new to Quincy's Gap is Willy Kendrick who owns and operates the new "Chilly Willy's Polar Pagoda." Willy intends to sell all types of detectable ice creams and treats which sets him quickly at odds with various parties including Veronica Levitt. Then there is the shape of his building and his t-shirts that have a clever marketing slogan. Both sit wrong with other parties who also make their displeasure known.
Before long, constant discussions of food make way for discussions of arson and murder, the Flab Five begin once more to investigate and put themselves in harm's way.
Featuring several secondary storylines, this cozy style mystery is very slow to get going. Much of the first half of the book is taken up constant discussion and consideration of food and dieting. Virtually every paragraph covers something good to eat, motivation to diet, how hard it is to diet, etc. Much like late night television where commercial after commercial announces tempting choices at this fast food restaurant or other (open later that ever before thank you very much) there is constant repetition about food bordering on obsession. Unlike late night TV where one can temporarily escape by changing channels, there is no escape here short of closing the book.
It is only after crimes have happened and authorities don't seem to have any basic curiosity into matters that the characters finally show that they have quite a lot going on besides food obsessions. Directly because of their interest and pursuit of justice, matters are finally resolved in classic style where all is explained to the group at the end and order has been once more restored.
The result is an entertaining read though difficult to stomach for those of us who do suffer the joys and perils of dieting. The characters are interesting and real, the case is interesting though rather obvious to seasoned readers, and ultimately happily resolved in the way preferred by cozy readers everywhere. Depending on your personal reading tastes, this might just hit the spot or be a little too sweet and sugary.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2007