cover image HOW TO COOK A TART


Nina Killham, Author . Bloomsbury $21.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-58234-269-6

Food, sex, murder and more food are the subjects of Killham's decadent debut. Jasmine March, a Rubensesque cookbook author and gourmand, is on a crusade to bring her rich recipes to the masses. She lives in Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Daniel, an acting teacher who's sliding into a classic midlife crisis, and their 16-year-old daughter, Careme, a frustrated virgin with an eating disorder and a pet python. Jasmine's publisher threatens to drop her unless she can come up with a low-fat cookbook, even though she longs for "the days when men were gluttons and proud of it... when food was prized, not shunned like some leprous disease," and when her so-called friends in the cutthroat food business don't help at all, she menaces one with a cleaver. Meanwhile, the eponymous tart in question is Tina Sardoni, a wafer-thin student in Daniel's acting class, who has a thing for colon cleansing and married men. The latter predilection lands her on Jasmine's kitchen floor, bludgeoned to death by a marble rolling pin. Jasmine is the perfect suspect, but is she the killer? Foodies, celebrity chefs, fad diets and skinny people all get what's coming to them, as Jasmine waxes poetic on everything from butter to bull testicles. Elaborate culinary descriptions and metaphors tend to overpower the rather meager plot, but this amusing satire will delight readers who believe that eating well is the best revenge. (Oct.)

Forecast:Devotees of the Food Network (Anthony Bourdain supplies a blurb) as well as of Faye Weldon will embrace this novel's full-figured heroine and food-friendly message.