BETTER THAN SEX: A Mystery Featuring Anneke Haagen

Susan Holtzer, Author
Susan Holtzer, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/ Dunne $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-25345-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 240 pages - 978-0-312-98005-4
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While the opening chapter rises lightly like a perfect soufflé, much of the rest of this food-centered novel, the seventh in the series, falls flat. Married in last year's The Wedding Game, Ann Arbor, Mich., sleuth Anneke Haagen and police lieutenant Karl Genesko are honeymooning in San Francisco when death strikes once again. Invited to watch a University of Michigan football game at the Maize and Blue Sports Bar by another UM alumnus (who's named the place after the school colors), Anneke finds herself seated with a group of local foodies. Grad student Lindsay Summers seems out of place among the diners—thin, eating only unbuttered toast—and her questions for a survey seem decidedly weighted against eating one's way through the good life. When Lindsay suddenly dies from a fast-acting poison, her table-mates—including a restaurant critic and others who live for fine cuisine—are suspect. Doubt also falls on young wonder chef Cody Jarrett and on Griffith Carr, a junior congressman ("The very notion of fried cheese seemed to enrage him"). Everyone involved has connections to good old U of M, so Anneke's 19-year-old pal, Zoe Kaplan, does some snooping back home. The story's charm, however, can't conceal its weaknesses as a mystery. Too often the author simply gives out crucial information rather than allow her characters to detect it. Nonetheless, Holtzer's fans should eat up this latest entry like comfort food. (Aug. 13)

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