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MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER


By Kathryn Lilley

Obsidian, 2009 ($6.99)
ISBN-10: 045122826X
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-22826-0

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Kate Gallagher, a perfect size sixteen in the size zero world of TV news, prefers to report hard news rather than feature fluff, and she really does not want to display that body to the viewing public in a bikini. When her nemesis Lainey Lanston offers to take on the assignment to expose quick weight loss scams, however, she decides to take the plunge. Kate's had experience with the fat industry, having barely survived a stay at a weight loss spa not long ago, and who knows, maybe being slathered with a special cream, wrapped in plastic and stuck into a sauna might work -- and at least the public will not get to see Ms. Lanston in a tiny bikini in all her size two glory.

Kate calls Evelyn, a friend from the diet clinic from hell, and learns about the fabulous Dr. Medina, a miracle worker who uses a newly developed laser treatment to melt away fat. She invites her to a meeting of Newbodies, a body image support group. Many of the ladies are patients of Dr. Medina. Jana Miller, another friend from the diet clinic, is in town to consult the doctor, and to visit her daughter Shaina.

Kate and Jana have lunch the next day, and Jana confides to Kate that her new marriage is not working out. Her hubby is spending her money as fast as he can, and he's not too discretely seeing other women. She's about to file for divorce.

When Kate's phone rings at 3 a.m. the next morning, she knows it won't be good news. Her editor tells her there's been another carjacking, the fourth in a month. He's not calling to assign the story to her, but to say one of the victims has asked for her: Shaina Miller, Jana's daughter. When she arrives on the accident scene, she is horrified to see that Jana, who was driving her daughter to the airport, was shot and killed by the carjacker. She finds it disturbing that one of her cop friends, a homicide detective, is on the scene. Could this be more than a random act of violence?

Jana had managed to push Shaina out of the car, and she'd been taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Kate hears Jana's voice in her head, pleading with her to help her daughter. When she sees Shaina, the distraught young woman tells Kate that she's sure her step-father is behind the fatal car-jacking. The doctor brushes it off as hysteria, but as Kate and her private investigator friend, hired by Jana to get the goods on her cheating hubby, look into his background and more recent activities, they think she might be right.

Kate's love life is not going well. Her hunky English detective, now assigned to work with the Durham police, is back in England for what was supposed to be a short visit to see his mother, but the trip stretches out, and Jonathan becomes more and more distant on the phone. She finds out he has been keeping a secret, and boy, is it a doozy!

When she interviews the miracle-working Dr. Medina for her series, she is pleased to find that he considers her desirable, and his interest in her helps to sooth her wounded heart. But is he too good to be true? That has been the pattern for Kate thus far, and it's time she caught a break.

This is the third in Lilley's Fat City Mystery series, following DYING TO BE THIN and A KILLER WORKOUT. Kate is a likable protagonist, a gal many of us who struggle with body image can identify with. Her plots are well-done, with several diverse plotlines woven skillfully together into a satisfying conclusion.

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