Tuesday, May 25, 2021

REVIEW: So Pretty It Hurts (book) by Kate White

So Pretty It Hurts
is the 6th book in Kate White's Bailey Weggins mystery series. 


Content warning: lots of detailed discussions about weight, anorexia, and eating disorders.

Bailey Weggins is a true crime writer and journalist for Buzz, a celebrity gossip magazine. Her love life is currently a bit uncertain - she loves her boyfriend, Beau, but suspects he only agreed to a committed relationship because he thought he'd lose her otherwise - so she deals with it by escaping to a house party in the country. Sparks fly between several of the guests, culminating in the shocking death of Devon Barr, an extremely thin supermodel. Bailey immediately suspects that an eating disorder played a part in Devon's death, but additional events cause her to wonder if Devon's death was helped along by one of the other guests.

Yeesh, I got this ARC almost a decade ago and am just now reading it. This is the sixth book in a series I haven't previously read, but it wasn't at all hard to jump into. I could tell there were references to previous events, but it didn't feel like I'd missed out on anything vital.

I was not a fan of Bailey at the start. She introduced herself by saying she was the sort of person who'd bite off her nose to spite her face, but that she rarely regretted the results of her actions in the heat of the moment, because the look on the other person's face was generally worth it. Her boyfriend had, out of the blue, gone on a week-long trip to shoot a documentary and then later texted her to tell her that he might be back early. She didn't like how he worded his text, like maybe he expected her to keep her schedule free just in case, so when she was given a chance to attend a house party that overlapped with when Beau might be back, she agreed just because she was irked at him.

That, combined with the light and conversational first-person writing, made Bailey come across as a twentysomething rather than thirtysomething. Her fellow house party guests were even worse. Devon appeared to be trying to win back Tommy, her rockstar ex-boyfriend, who was now dating another model, Tory, who was also at the party and very unhappy about Devon's heavy flirting (Devon literally engineered a wardrobe malfunction to flash her breasts at him, so "heavy flirting" is an understatement). Bailey had reason to believe that Devon might be sleeping with Cap, her agent, whose wife was also at the party, so the character relationships were a mess.

I started to like Bailey more after Devon's death, however. Since she worked for a celebrity gossip magazine, I had assumed that she'd zero in on any shiny garbage she could play up in an article, but instead she handled things surprisingly professionally. She made sure people at the party didn't disturb Devon's body and the room more than they already had, talked to the cops before sending info on to her boss, and actually kept her word when she told people she'd keep certain things off the record. All the maturity she lacked in her romantic life she had in spades in her professional life.

Things got pretty tense at the house after Devon's death - things disappearing, weird occurrences, etc. - and I fully expected the snow to keep them all trapped there until things finally came to a head and the murderer was identified. Instead, Bailey headed back to work a little over a third of the way through the book, and the story shifted more into "meh" territory as Bailey interviewed people and fretted over Beau and issues with her job.

A couple clues made the murderer's identity pretty easy to guess, and I figured out their motive about 20 pages early. On the whole, things wrapped up in a lukewarm sort of way. This didn't leave me feeling an immediate need to read more in the series, but I could see myself trying another book one day, maybe.

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