Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Hardcover, 340pp
(Received for an honest review from William Morrow)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Mary Jane Clark on the WEB: website, facebook
Books in the Series: To Have and To Kill (2011), The Look of Love (2012)
CoverArt: Click on the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from The Look of Love (Amazon Look Inside Feature)
Piper Donovan accepts when the owner of Elysium, an exclusive spa and plastic surgery center, offers her an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to create a dazzling and unique wedding cake. The job also gives Piper the time and distance she needs to sort out her feelings for handsome FBI agent Jack Lombardi.
The ultra-luxurious spa caters to the rich and famous in need of a little "refreshing" - a nip here, a tuck there, a little Botox, a little detox. Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, Elysium seems picture-perfect: the grounds, the staff, even the guests. But no sooner does Piper arrive than a guest is brutally murdered in one of the private bungalows. Someone, it seems, wants to make sure Elysium's beautiful director, Jillian Abernathy, never gets to walk down the aisle. Piper soon discovers that beneath the glamorous surface of this idyllic oasis lies an ugly truth - and a cold-blooded plan for murder.
Mary Jane Clark is certainly not a new-comer in the publishing industry, but she has focused mainly on main stream mystery and thrillers throughout her career. The Look of Love is the second book in Clark's first cozy mystery series. The Wedding Cake series introduces readers to Piper Donovan, cake decorator, actress and amateur sleuth. Readers will enjoy this lighter side to Clark's writing, as well as, her engaging characters.
Clark's trademark short chapters put me in the mind of James Patterson at times with shifting viewpoints and a multi-layered plot. I loved the way Clark easily shifts from the killers point-of-view, to that of possible suspects and the main characters. It sounds like it would hard to follow, but it's anything but and the reader gets a view into the mind of a murderer, creepy but cool.
Piper, the heroine in The Look of Love and the series, is a spunky young woman who wears plenty of hats. She's an aspiring actress, a wedding cake decorator and she dabbles in solving mysteries and this book is definitely focused on the whodunit. The mystery itself was unique and easily held my interest. I liked the fact that Piper is taking a road trip in this book and taking herself out of her comfort zone.
Who doesn't want a little pampering now and then? And what better place to get it than a state-of-the-art spa. Even the name of spa equates to luxury and comfort. Elysium is a Greek version of the afterlife. The Hollywood Hills isn't exactly a normal cozy mystery setting and that made it all the more interesting. It was different and the day-to-day workings of the spa was enlightening. Readers will certainly be wishing they could visit this spa due to the wonderful descriptions.
Another thing I found interesting about this one was the fact that Clark didn't just stop with one murder. This twisting plot features several. There are bodies dropping all over the place. I found myself wondering... Who in the world would feel the need to kill that many people to get what they want? And of course Piper is right in the middle of the mayhem, right where she belongs.
This is a great sophomore effort on Clark's part and I liked just about everything about it. Piper is a great heroine, engaging and easy to like. Her curiosity killed the cat attitude is always landing her in hot water. The setting was unique and interesting and Clark's shifting view points were a real selling point. I recommend this one to cozy readers, Clark fans and even those main stream mystery readers that need to give cozies a try!
The Look of Love is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Like Piper Donovan, New York Times bestselling author Mary Jane Clark has a mother who made customized cakes for the neighborhood kids when Mary Jane was growing up. After a career at CBS News and writing twelve media thrillers, the author envisioned the Piper Donovan/Wedding Cake mystery series. The daughter of an FBI agent, Mary Jane is the mother of two grown children and splits her time between New Jersey and Florida. Currently, she is concocting her next novel.