If Looks Could Kill

I’ve been traveling for work this spring and summer, and, as tends to happen, I finish the book I took along before the return trip and end up buying another from the limited selection at the airport or train station. This year, said purchases resulted in Kate White’s If Looks Could Kill (in SeaTac on the way home from the Whidbey Conference) and ‘Til Death Do Us Part (in Grand Central Station on the way home from BookExpoAmerica). Since this is #1 and #3 in the series that features intrepid true crime reporter Bailey Wiggins, who works for Gloss, a Cosmo-style magazine (which is more than appropriate since the author is the editor-in-chief of that well known periodical), I’d thought I’d just make them one entry.


If Looks Could Kill [3.5/5]
Warner Books, May 2003

To sum up the plot: Bailey is called upon to solve her first murder when her boss, Cat, discovers her nanny dead and is convinced that she, herself, was the actual target. After many, many, many red-herrings and lot of diversion into the cold and catty world of magazine publishing, Bailey, after a near-fatal brush with the real killer, solves the mystery. (Nope, no spoilers.) There’s also a subplot where Bailey appears to leave behind the swinging singles scene to settle down with a pyschiatrist.

Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and called it “Bridget Jones meets Nancy Drew,” which I think is a very accurate assessment of its style. Overall, I’d call it a very fun read, though I think the mystery didn’t quite have enough of the whodunnit quotient for my taste. And I think that part of the story was a bit diluted by Bailey’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. Perhaps it’s more “Sex and the City meets Nancy Drew.”

‘Til Death Do Us Part [3.5/5]
Warner Books, June 2005

In this one, Bailey discovers that two bridesmaids from a wedding she, herself, participated in, have died in freak accidents. One of the remaining women is convinced she’s next and prevails upon Bailey to investigate, since she’s done so successfully before. Off to the Connecticut suburbs of Manhattan and into a twisted plot of jealousy, deceit, and – yep – more murders. Once again, the heroine manages to bring about justice after nearly dying herself.

As with the first book, I have to admit that I don’t get a strong sensibility of the book as a mystery. Yes, there’s a murder and Bailey does want to find out who did it and why and bring them to justice. But there is also a lot of focus on the glitzy world that Bailey flirts with living in. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d say: dishy. Oh, and the settling down plot from the first novel? Not so much.


I don’t really feel I missed anything by not reading the 2nd book in the series – A Body to Die For. That’s both good, because they stand alone to a degree, but also bad, because I don’t feel compelled to go back and find myself a copy. Publishers Weekly has given #4 in the series – Over Her Dead Body – another starred review. It just came out in July. It’s possible it will serve as an emergency read on my next trip and that’d be fine with me. I didn’t fall in love with this series, but I did enjoy them. I’d read it more for the character and the milieu than the mystery/suspense.

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