Kate White,
If Looks Could Kill
(Time Warner, 2002)

If Looks Could Kill is a murder mystery by Kate White that has also been released on audiobook. The story centers around Bailey Weggins, a freelance writer who contributes many articles on crime and human interest to Gloss, a highly popular, Manhattan-based woman's magazine. Gloss is headed by Cat Jones, a fairly young, ambitious and demanding individual.

Not too long after a party at Cat's home, her live-in nanny, Heidi, is found dead. It is quickly determined that her death was caused by a box of poisoned chocolates -- chocolates that had been left as a gift for Cat at the party. Cat doesn't know who left them, but she knows she was the intended victim.

If your life was in jeopardy, would you simply sit back and allow the police to do their job? Cat decides she needs Bailey's investigative expertise to help solve the crime before the killer tries again. For six hours, the listener of this tale follows Bailey as she whittles down a party full of suspects and then some to deduce who the guilty individual is. There are many false trails and one huge red herring that I'll admit I followed like a starving kitten. In fact, I doubt most listeners will successfully figure out "who done it" until almost the very end. In this regard, this murder mystery succeeds in maintaining an air of "mystery."

Unfortunately, the book fails on several levels. To begin with, the clues that point to the real killer are not revealed until the very end where the book raps up rather quickly. Hence, unless you are a very good guesser, you will probably reach the end of the story thinking "huh?" rather than "a-ha!" It does not bother me when I cannot figure out who the killer is as long as I can think back and see how I missed the clues. In this particular case, I did not feel I missed anything because the legitimate clues simply were not presented until side B of the last tape.

I also had trouble with the minute details of who was wearing what. At first, I thought all this information was important to the plot, but eventually, I came to realize that Bailey's character must simply be a slave to fashion. If you are, too, I'm sure you'll appreciate this useless information a little more than I did. I found it distracting.

The main area this audiobook fails is with the narrator. Parker Posey is a decent actress but, as Bailey Weggins, Parker is a flop. She reads in a breathy voice that makes each sentence come out as one long sigh. Parker lacks emotion and her reading is flat. I had the impression that she wasn't really into the story, but was simply reading for a paycheck.

The author, Kate White, is editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. She has written several non-fiction books including Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do and Nine Secrets of Girls Who Get Everything They Want. She even has her own website if you are interested in learning more.

If Looks Could Kill is perhaps mis-titled. Maybe it should have been called Death by Chocolate or Fashions for the Unofficial Homicide Detective. The story is definitely aimed at female readers of murder mysteries. While not the best that this genre has to offer, the tale is palatable. If you do decide to pick it up though, I would recommend the written version over the audiotape.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 14 December 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.