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Murder Can Spoil Your Appetite

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Four moon gifSignet (Paperback), ISBN 0451199588
Desiree Shapiro has no secrets. Her life is an open book, so to speak, and she will tell you all you want to know and more. This 52-year-old, matronly private investigator not only leads you to the murderer, she shares her views on every man she meets, details her niece's love life as well as her own, and discusses the pros and cons of living in Manhattan. Then Desiree relates every aspect of her life to food -- hence the title Murder Can Spoil Your Appetite.  

Book: Selma Eichler, Murder Can Spoil Your AppetiteSelma Eichler dedicates a good many pages and far too much detail to Desiree's eating habits: what Desiree eats, what she doesn't, and why she does or doesn't. Eichler even throws in a recipe for Chilled Lemon Soufflé, which could be used as a murder weapon in another mystery. The salmonella bacteria from the uncooked eggs required by the recipe could easily kill a crowd. 

But as we quickly learn from the book, Desiree cannot say no. She not only says yes to second helpings at the dinner table, but also (against her better judgment) to New Jersey-based mob boss Vito de Silva. Vito hires Desiree to find the murderer of his good friend Frankie Vincent.  

Book: Selma Eichler, Murder Can Spook Your CatVito points at Frankie's wife, and like a hungry woman with P.M.S. on the trail of a chocolate cheesecake, Desiree relentlessly pursues the widow until every crumb, I mean, clue is chewed and digested. But in many ways, Frankie's murder -- an unimaginative shooting in a vacant parking lot during a mock robbery -- simply serves as a vehicle for readers to learn more about Desiree and why she would dump a hunk who loves her for an ugly police detective who finds her irritating.  

Readers also discover that the only person who cares about Frankie's death is Vito da Silva. It doesn't take long for readers to question why they should care, either.

This seventh course in the Desiree Shapiro mystery series tastes bland on the palate with respect to action, imagination, minor characters and murder. But if you like girlfriend chatter about the mundane and a rather stereotypical New York matron pursuing a not so typical career, Murder Can Spoil Your Appetite may provide just the right bill of fare. 

Dawn Goldsmith 

Click here to read the Crescent Blues review of Eichler's Murder Can Singe Your Old Flame.

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