Sunday, December 18, 2011

Murder Can Spoil Your Appetite (audio book) by Selma Eichler, read by Barbara Rosenblat

I think this book would be included in both "cozy mystery" and "food mystery" categories, although food mystery lovers should be warned that while this book has lots of references to food, it includes only one recipe.


Under normal circumstances, private detective Desiree Shapiro would never accept a job from an organized crime boss. However, Desiree is curious in spite of herself, Vito de Silva won't take no for an answer...and the amount he offers to pay her is very, very nice.

A friend of de Silva's was murdered, and de Silva wants to find out who did it and doesn't trust the cops to do as thorough an investigation as he would like. De Silva swears to Desiree that he will let the law punish whoever is found to be the murderer. De Silva had been helping his friend rise in politics, but it doesn't seem like anyone killed him for that reason. Desiree and Lou, her partner from the local police, investigate a lot of different possibilities, including a drug deal gone bad or jealousy on the part of one of de Silva's people, but nothing seems to pan out. Desiree can't shake her suspicion that the up-and-coming politician's beautiful wife had something to do with his murder.


I had never read or listened to one of Selma Eichler's books before, and I hadn't realized that this was book 7 in her Desiree Shapiro series. However, I thought it stood well enough on its own. Eichler established fairly early on that Desiree, short and a bit overweight (not that too big of a deal is made of this), was not what people usually pictured when they thought of private detectives. Also, Desiree is a widow and is dating Al, a guy who is nice and comfortable, but, from Desiree's perspective, not much besides.

This was maybe not the best work-time listening. I had trouble keeping track of Desiree and Lou's reasons for accepting or rejecting certain theories for why the guy (whose name I cannot remember – maybe Frank?) was murdered. I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed this book more in paper form, though, because, to be honest, the mystery itself didn't seem hugely interesting to me. I didn't have the feeling that Desiree was getting anywhere, so it was hard to work up any enthusiasm for the investigation.

When the killer was revealed, I was shocked – I truly hadn't guessed who it was, and still couldn't quite believe it after it had been revealed, because murder seemed so out of character for that person. I had caught some slightly “off” moments in that character's behavior, but I hadn't thought anything of it at the time. The thing that bugged me the most about the revelation of who the killer was was that I couldn't really believe that Desiree managed to figure it out. She didn't have a whole lot to go on, other than the a few things that didn't quite add up (any of which could have been explained in some other way). It wasn't until the killer confessed to the murder that she truly had proof – and the confession scene bothered me in its own way. Yes, Desiree had her gun close at hand. However, she had a broken leg and couldn't maneuver very well. Even had her leg not been broken, I would have considered it amazingly stupid for her to invite a suspected killer over, especially one who had tried to kill her.

On the personal side of things, I could tell things were over between Desiree and Al long before she herself noticed. Actually, part of me thought that Al might have been cheating on her – he seemed just a tad too mild, nice, and perfect. I was glad that Desiree broke up with Al after realizing that she was falling for Lou. She would have lost points with me if she had waited until after finding out how Lou felt about her.

Overall, I don't think this was a bad book, but there was nothing about it that grabbed me and made me want to read/listen to the rest of the series. Everything about it felt kind of average, and none of the characters, even Desiree, really sparked my interest. Well, except maybe de Silva, but I have a feeling he's not going to be a recurring character.

Barbara Rosenblat was an okay reader, although I don't feel like raving about her the way I do about Stephen Briggs. The voices she chose for the characters weren't always as easy to tell apart as I would have liked.


There is one recipe included, but I can't remember which track or disc. I think it was for a lemon souffle.

  • One for the Money (book) by Janet Evanovich - Desiree talking about her gun not getting a lot of use and not having any experience with dangerous cases prior to a few years ago reminded me of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Be warned, though - Stephanie's not just unused to danger, she's also incompetent as a bounty hunter. Those who liked the slight romantic elements in Eichler's book may appreciate the romance that brews between Stephanie and two other characters, a cop named Joe Morelli and a bounty hunter named Ranger. Those who liked Eichler's food references will probably enjoy Stephanie's love of food and her dinners at her parents' house - just be aware that there are no recipes.
  • Just Desserts (book) by G.A. McKevett - I haven't read anything by this author. I added it to this list because it's a mystery with a plus-sized female main character. Detective Savannah Reid investigates the murder of the husband of city councilwoman Beverly Winston, only to be fired after she learns that there's a cover up going on to protect the councilwoman and that the councilwoman and police chief are lovers. A prime suspect hires Savannah to continue looking into the murder.
  • Larger Than Death (book) by Lynne Murray - Another mystery with a plus-sized female main character, this one looking into the death of her friend, who may have been killed by a serial killer nicknamed Captain Ahab. Captain Ahab leaves behind the message "Kill the Whales" and specializes in plus-sized women, and the main character's friend was a designer of plus-sized clothing.