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The Look of Love
A Piper Donovan Mystery, No 2
Mary Jane Clark

William Morrow/Harper Collins
January 2012 / ISBN: 978-0-06-199556-9
Mystery/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Piper Donovan is an aspiring actress who has moved home to live with her parents while she is between gigs. Her mother Terri, runs a very successful bakery, but is losing her vision and requires help, and Piper is happy to be there to lend a hand. Piper has learned from her mother over the years and now can make out-of-this-world cakes, as evidenced by one she made recently for a soap opera actress who was getting married.

When Piper gets an invitation to LA, it·s not for an audition (at least not right away), but to make a wedding cake for the daughter of the owner of an exclusive spa. Since she will only be gone for a week, and she knows her mother's employees will help out, she takes the job. The spa caters to the rich as well as the famous, and they offer innovative anti-aging technology. The spa, Elysium, features amazing amenities and Piper is thrilled that she accepted the cake assignment. The bride-to-be is nice, and Piper learns she will only have to assemble and decorate the cake, as a nearby convent makes wonderful pumpkin bread that will be used for the cake layers.

Although an employee of the spa has recently been maimed by acid thrown in her face, Piper feels reassured that there is now plenty of security in place and that all will be well. It·s not long though, before some dirty goings-on are suspected, and the injured employee is actually murdered. Without her FBI agent boyfriend, Jack, to watch her back, Piper must look out for number one as she tries to uncover the truth behind the vicious attacks on the housekeeper. Is the intended target really the bride-to-be? Is one of the spa employees sexually assaulting guests while they undergo ·sleep treatments?· Will Piper be able to find the answers in time to keep herself from an early grave?

Author Mary Jane Clark has cooked up a delicious mystery featuring ingredients like smart, strong women, devious employees and ex-employees, a father who loves his daughter above all else, and enough possible suspects to keep you turning page after page to find the next clue.

The book is a fast read, with short chapters that keep the action moving at a steady pace. I was stumped as to who the actual killer was until nearly the end. Piper is an intelligent character and the depth of her emotions and insight into her thought processes were written extremely well. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to those who love a mystery without a lot of gore. The complex characters and an interesting, warm, and sunny California locale had my mind wandering to the warmer climate as I read this on a cold December weekend. And that is a good thing!

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2012
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