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If Looks Could Kill    by Kate White order for
If Looks Could Kill
by Kate White
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Bailey Weggins tries to improve the quality of her dysfunctional love life, while playing P.I. for her demanding boss in this spicy debut mystery about misdirection and murder. Bailey takes a professional interest in true crime and is of the smart, sassy and sexy style of investigator. She lives in Greenwich Village and works free-lance for Gloss magazine and its editor-in-chief Cat Jones, who is also her friend.

Bailey solves mysteries at different levels in this novel. She seeks to uncover the truth behind a true crime story for the magazine, while investigating the murder of Cat's stunning, upwardly mobile nanny Heidi, done in by poison in chocaholic disguise. There are many candidates for the role of murderer, unfortunately mostly Gloss employees. And even the intended victim is unclear as it seems that Heidi pilfered a Godiva gift box intended for Cat.

In between bouts of 'mattress mambo' (with a commitment-challenged investment banker lover who is 'as skittish as an alpine goat') and a rush to meet an early deadline for a 'poltergeist piece', Bailey tries to make sense of the haphazardness of the crime. As hang-up calls accumulate, she begins to fear that the killer is stalking her, especially after a chocolate Kiss appears on her desk. As a theory emerges that 'someone is killing the editors of women's magazines', Cat becomes frantic.

The story is slick as Gloss, the dialogue witty, the plot heats up steadily (as do many of the characters), and the women's magazine background is fascinating. Bailey is an engaging character, feckless in her love life, competent and vulnerable at the same time. Cat is driven and selfish, but she does come through for her friend. The skittish banker, and a shrink consultant are good romantic foils, and I look forward to seeing more of all of them in the next Bailey Weggins adventure.

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