Monday, December 1, 2008

Death Takes the Cake-Melinda Wells

Death Takes the Cake
Melinda Wells
Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226421

Mickey Jordan, owner of the Better Living Cable Channel, informs cooking show hostess Della Carmichael that she will participate in a reality baking competition. The owner of the sponsor Reggi-Mixx Cake Company Regina “Reggie” Davis believes the contest will be good for her ailing firm while a weary Della receives free publicity for her show. Della ignores her gut concerns that back in college she turned in Reggie as a thief to authorities and the woman was unable to gain vengeance back then but still holds a grudge.

Della’s fears about the competition prove valid when she arrives at the cooking site at night to find a corpse drowned in cake batter; the victim is Reggie. T.J. Taggett, a private investigator hired by Reggie to make inquires into the lives of Della, her boss and his wife is later killed and Della thinks it is by the same person. The police focus on Bill, the husband of Della’s best friend Lidy; he was seen with her several times and she had his prized pen in her purse. Della investigates and quickly learns many people had a motive to kill Reggie including her boss and his wife.

Although the evidence against Bill seems on the surface flimsy, which would make Della’s motive to probe the homicide even flimsier, fans will enjoy the heroine’s investigation which surprisingly comes across as plausible as what motivates her to sleuth could happen to others. Whereas the victim is not sympathetic at all, the accused is very much so; leading the audience to root for Della to prove his innocence as the police do not seem to be looking elsewhere though they should. Charming Della TAKES THE CAKE, as she turns this amateur sleuth into an engaging realistic whodunit.

Harriet Klausner