katy
Karen Valby
July 31, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If Looks Could Kill

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kate White
publisher
Warner Books
genre
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B+

Kate White, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, well understands that sex sells. And her first novel, ”If Looks Could Kill,” a mystery set in the snippy world of women’s mags, has one pedicured foot planted firmly in the gutter. Cat Jones is the heartless head of Gloss (is White confessing her past sins?). Her nanny, Heidi, a ”stunningly pretty and aloof girl from Minnesota or Indiana,” has just been murdered by poisoning. Did Cat’s strapping young husband try to squelch their unseemly affair? Or is Gloss’ deputy editor the culprit? Can Cat, a woman known for trampling over younger and blonder competition, even be trusted? Bailey Weggins, Gloss’ true-crime contributing writer, must ferret out the well-heeled villain. ”An hour ago I’d been lying in my bed about to be ravished by my wild Irish rogue,” she moans when a duty call interrupts a booty call, ”and now here I was, sitting with a dead body, crusted in vomit.”

Subtle the author isn’t. No one simply has sex — they get action, alliteration-style: While fighting crime Bailey manages to squeeze in a ”mattress mambo” and a ”carnal carnival.” But all this goofy vulgarity is delivered with a wink. And the crass make-out scenes are just icing. The mystery is surprisingly first-rate; there are so many reprehensible characters to suspect that it’s impossible to outwit White. Winningly salacious, intentionally silly, here’s an affair to remember, at least until Labor Day.

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