Slice and Dice

Ellen Hart, Author
Ellen Hart, Author Fawcett Books $6.5 (368p) ISBN 978-0-345-42153-1
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Constance Buckridge is an American success story, rising from humble beginnings to queen of the food and hospitality industry with restaurants, hotels and a very profitable cooking school. Her clan has gathered in Minneapolis to scout possible additions to the family empire. Sophie Greenway, restaurant critic and owner of the Maxfield Plaza Hotel and once in love with Constance's son, Nathan, is now happily married to handsome talk-show host Bram Baldric. They live at the hotel where the Buckridges are in residence, as is the much-feared Marie Damontraville, who is researching her next unauthorized biography--this one about Constance, who has much to hide. Hart's (Murder in the Air) work has all the makings of a potboiler since Connie and company provide their own secret ingredients and Marie's e-mail informer feeds her deliciously ripe inside information. In a further twist, Sophie's father's friend, Harry Hongisto, owner of the once-renowned Belmont Hotel, has been savaged twice by restaurant critic George Gildemeister's bad reviews. The pace quickly bubbles from simmer to boil when Sophie drops in to consult George about the editorial position he's given up and she is about to take over--and discovers his lifeless body oozing blood from several wounds. Not surprisingly, Harry is soon in custody. Could there be any connection with the single-minded Constance? While the complexity of Hart's novel is admirable, the overabundance of disparate ingredients add up to a story that feels... sliced and diced. (Oct.)
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