Friday, February 15, 2013
Book Review: Banana Split by Josi Kilpack (Whitney Finalist)
Author: Josi Kilpack
Enjoyment Rating: ****
This book would be rated: PG (references to drugs and a murder)
For the last two years, when Josi Kilpack was the president of the Whitney Committee (and therefore ineligible to receive awards for her books), I missed her Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mysteries. When I read Lemon Tart, the first book in the series, several years ago, I enjoyed the way that I could get lost for a few hours in an entertaining story that was cute and well-written. Banana Split is the seventh book in the series, is even better than the first. In this novel, Sadie Hoffmiller has fled to Hawaii, where she's suffering from anxiety and depression after her life was threatened in a previous case. For several months she hides out and wallows in Kauai, until she falls into the water during a rare outing with the Blue Muumuus (kind of like the Red Hat Society, Hawaiian style), and discovers the dead boy of Noelani, a young recovering drug addict, a single mother who had been trying to get her life back together.
Suddenly, Sadie's life has a purpose again. She's not sure if she should throw herself into the investigation, but when Noelani's son Charlie seeks her out, she finds herself returning to her own habits. But can the new, damaged, anxiety-ridden Sadie handle the challenge?
Three years ago, when I read the first Sadie Hoffmiller mystery, the whole cozy mystery genre was new to me. I'd read a lot of police procedurals, all of the Dragon Tattoo books, and every single thing PD James had ever written, and I'd come to expect violence and dramatic, scary scenes when I was reading mystery novels. Consequently, I think I misjudged where Kilpack was coming from in her novels. I made fun of her recipes and nitpicked about Sadie's character. But now that I've seen that what she's doing is intentional, and enjoyable, and getting better after seven books, I'm convinced. Three years ago I said that Lemon Tart was the kind of book I'd pass on to my mom and she'd love, but Banana Split is a book that I really enjoyed too.