Throw Darts at a Cheesecake Paperback – Large Print, Apr 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This lighthearted but sometimes lackluster murder debut features a spunky middle-aged protagonist who has her appealing moments despite a tendency to silly behavior that defies common sense. Divorcee Ellie Bernstein is the group leader for her Weight Winners class meeting in a Colorado Springs church. When one of the most popular members dies fully clothed in a full bathtub, Ellie writes it off as an accident. Another accident involving club members (a van goes off a cliff while inside the couple are making love) seems a little more suspicious, but the death of yet another Weight Winner, an elderly woman found skewered by her knitting needles, is definitely murder. When attractive homicide cop detective Lt. Peter Miller brusquely turns down Ellie's offer to help investigate she sets off on her own to find out who is killing former fatties who are closest to their weight goals. Though Dietz's mystery has an inviting premise, it is flawed by pedestrian prose.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you want to read an interesting book filled with interesting characters, interesting conflicts and well thought out plot lines, then run and find another book. The writing style is stilted. The dialogue is bad. The writing connecting it all together is bad.
If you want to read about interesting fat people in mysterious circumstances, read Kathleen Taylor's mystery series. It's set in South Dakota with a fat crime fighter. It is hilariously well thought out and very clever.
The cheesecake is not well plotted at all. She gives a quote from Gilda Ratner in the FIRST full paragraph which tells the book title. -please- The opening page is so important. It establishes the whole premise for the book. The opening page sets the stage. It should be catchy, but certainly not reveal in the 2nd line the whole reason for the title forgoodnesssake.
In this book, fat people are stupid and crude (confusing semen with "piss" -- I ask you!); fat people are smelly, dirty, and ugly; fat people are wife beaters and worse; fat people don't want, deserve, or get to have sex (but people celebrating losing weight are so attractive and so lusty, they can't even wait to get home).
Our murderer is seen as extra-evil because he's killing off the soon-to-be-thin. The subtext is that the death of a fat person is not as much of a loss (forgive the pun!), and the death of at least one of the victims is greeted with, "Oh, but she was so close to her goal weight!" That's the tragedy -- not that she's dead, but that she died before making goal. The author also spends a great deal of time noting that one near-victim escapes burning alive through a narrow window only because she had lost so many pounds and inches; had she not, well, fry-time! And it would have been her own fault, so there!
Of course, all this applies only to the unrepentant fat. People trying to lose weight are treated with elaborate faux-pity disguised as treacly "support."
The heroine fulfills all the Stupid-Woman clichés of the genre. She boinks the detective, with no regard for the conflict of interest therein (and if the heroine doesn't notice it, surely the author should?) She tells him, over and over, that she's a pretty good detective herself, though there is nothing in the book's set-up to suggest this. She insists, completely without foundation, that the deaths of four people of her group of twenty or so -- in a single week -- must all be accidents, and not murders at all. She not once but several times intentionally evades the guards which have been set on her for her own protection. She turns felon to "obtain evidence" -- evidence which could never, of course, then be used in court, right? So let's add obstruction of justice to breaking and entering, not to mention remorselessly lying to her new lover and putting his job at risk amid great professional embarrassment -- none of which the author mentions even in passing. And last but not least, during the inevitable chase scene, she -- what? you know this part? -- SHE FALLS DOWN. Yes! Not even over a tree root! Not even from a broken heel! She falls down because, well, that's what women in peril DO.
I picked up (at the library, thank goodness) a couple of other books by this author but just couldn't get started. The weight fascination continues in 2000's "Beat Up a Cookie" -- the back cover's focus on the heroine's 55-pound weight loss was enough to turn me off that one, though since it's part of this series, you'd expect some of that. But I'd also picked up "Fifty Cents For Your Soul," a slightly-out-of-genre horror mystery with an entirely different cast of characters, written in 2002. By the third sentence of Chapter One, the heroine is obsessing on skim milk versus whatever, and that did it for me. Ptui!
If you want mysteries about food -- with a heroine who wants to lose weight but doesn't need to mention it on every page -- try the first eight books in the Goldy Bear catering mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson. Until the series goes irredeemably bad with book #10 (Sticks & Scones), those books are pretty darned good, and while Davidson lets her heroine slip into Stupid Woman behavior now and then, at least it's NEW behavior (being manipulated by her son, not calling the cops often enough on an abusive ex) instead of the old standards Dietz serves up amid all the rice cakes and carrots.
Ellie was learning to get over things that had happened in her life. She was looking out for the people she helped lose the weight to get healthy. She has a good heart and had the right motives. Peter Miller was human in this book as well. He had a case to solve but he made sure all the people in the group who had been attacked or could be next had protection. I also loved Wanda. She was there and stuck through it even though her husband was less than supportive. She kept plugging along and brushed it off.
This mystery was interesting but some of the minor characters drove me bonkers. If someone were to go on this kind of endeavor of losing weight, support is something that is needed throughout the whole journey. I was less than impressed with some of the minor characters. I don't want to say a whole lot just because well the book fell flat in parts. Humor is needed but Tubby and Lulu seemed to take it to the negative extremes. Yeah, not sure I want to pick up the next one. I am hoping it is better. It was an interesting mystery and had no clue who was behind it all. The clues were there once it was revealed. Like I said previously, things were a little over the top.