March 1, 2012

Review: Banana Split by Josi Kilpack

There seems to be a lot of new fiction from LDS publishers now arriving in the store, many of them from familiar and favorite authors about familiar characters.  The store sometimes receives advance copies of books.  Unfortunately, I often time do not have time to read them all, but when we got our advance copy of Banana Split, I decided I needed to just indulge myself and read it right away.

Banana Split is the latest in a series of culinary mysteries by Josi Kilpack featuring Sadie Hofmiller who loves to cook.  Each story can be read alone, but I have really enjoyed reading them in order because I feel the development of the characters has really grown with each book.  In the first couple of books, I really enjoyed the mystery/puzzle to be solved which oft took very surprising twists and turns along with the really fun recipes.  However, I often felt the characters were not very deeply explored and did not feel like I could relate to Sadie.  However, as the series has progressed, Sadie's character has also become more complex with fascinating layers that are weaved into the story and who-dunnit plots making for more satisfying reading.  Pumpkin Roll came out last fall, and I have talked to many who feel it was the best to that point.  I think Banana Split is a continuation of the high level reached in Pumpkin Roll and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Sadie is in Hawaii house-sitting a friend's condo complex while trying to come to terms with the traumas experienced a few months earlier in Boston (the climax of Pumpkin Roll).  Her anxiety and depression have trapped her into a very un-Sadie-like existence where she hardly leaves the condo.  As things seem to go for Sadie, she discovers a body, which trauma causes her finally seek professional help for her emotional issues.  Although she is trying to come out of the hole into which she has fallen, she has no interest in knowing anything more about the victim who is generally believed to have died from a drug overdose.  However, when Charlie, the 11-year-old son of the victim approaches Sadie for answers about his mother, Sadie's reluctant attempts to help him find closure not only helps her begin to emerge from her depression but also helps her find out she is stronger than she thinks she is when she is trying to help someone she has grown to care about.  
I felt that the mystery, subplots, pacing and characterizations all were well-done, meaning I was drawn into the story which kept me thinking, caring and guessing all along the way to a satisfying conclusion.  Oh, and the recipes really looked delicious.  I can't say I've tried them out as when I could be cooking, I'd rather be reading.  To check out Banana Split on our website, click here.

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