'Look of Love' has right mix for a clever amateur sleuth
The amateur sleuth subgenre continues to prove that these lighter stories don't have to be lightweight, thanks to authors who deliver clever plots while giving a glimpse of myriad occupations. This more personal type of mystery is filled with non...
The amateur sleuth subgenre continues to prove that these lighter stories don't have to be lightweight, thanks to authors who deliver clever plots while giving a glimpse of myriad occupations. This more personal type of mystery is filled with nonprofessional detectives -- cooks, shoppers, bookstore owners -- allowing the possibility that anyone can be a sleuth.
Mary Jane Clark's tales about Piper Donovan, a wedding-cake baker and aspiring actress, fits well with the amateur sleuth's transformation.
"The Look of Love" has the right ingredients for an entertaining, involving plot. The second novel in this series works well as a story about an appealing young woman at the crossroads of her life, a look at the vagaries of families and a peek at the lifestyles of the wealthy.
Piper's new career as a wedding cake baker may get a boost when she's invited to an all-expenses-paid stay at an exclusive spa in Los Angeles. While she's in L.A., Piper is hoping to squeeze in an audition or two. In return, Piper has to make the wedding cake for Jillian Abernathy, director of the spa owned by her father.
But Jillian may never walk down the aisle because someone seems determined to sabotage her wedding by attacking people close to her. If made public, the horrendous attacks also could ruin the spa's reputation. Piper is drawn into the investigation for self-protection; she may be in danger because she is now part of Jillian's inner circle.
A breezy plot and realistic characters elevate "The Look of Love." Piper's loving family and her burgeoning relationship with a compassionate FBI agent fill out illustrate a well-rounded character with a believable life. Piper's job as a wedding-cake baker does not overwhelm the plot but complements the story.
Clark's use of a real L.A. bakery run by the Monastery of the Angels convent further adds a slice of realism to "The Look of Love." And, yes, there's a recipe but rather than a gimmick, Clark offers it as a gift to the reader.
©2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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