by Dorothy Cannell
What a bloody mess. Cannell adopts a 1930s, Agatha Christie-like style for her debut novel, which is a pleasant enough mystery for about two-thirds of its length. But then the author loses all sense of reality.
The heroine-narrator, an interior decorator obsessed with food, utters howler after howler (“I desired a roast beef sandwich with horse-radish and pickled onions with a wanton savagery that I had never felt for any man”), and her romance with an oddball male escort almost – but not quite – plunges the book into “so bad it’s good” territory:
Ben: “This is how it could have been if only I had confessed my love before you went and got so skinny.”
Ellie: “Part of me will always hunger for the wrong foods but I have to tell you that I am not prepared to eat myself back to my old proportions so you can prove the integrity of your love.”
The biggest head-scratcher of all is that, somehow, this amateurish junk food was included by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of its “100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.”
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