TO HAVE AND TO KILL – Mary Jane Clark
A Wedding Cake Mystery, Book 1
William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0-06-199554-5
January 2011

Hillwood, New Jersey and Manhattan , New York – November

Piper Donovan has always wanted to be an actress. She has been acting in a soap opera, but has recently been written out of the storyline. She spends most of her time earning money as a waitress or auditioning for various acting jobs with little success. She has decided to return home to New Jersey temporarily to regroup. Jack Lombardi, an FBI agent, is Piper's good friend, and would like to be something more. Her mother, Terri, owns The Icing on the Cupcake Bakery and is known for making stunning wedding cakes, decorating them in the window of her shop. Piper has helped her in the past. She has noticed a change in her mother. Terri is having problems keeping up with the business that she has always loved. She confides in her co-worker that she has macular degeneration and cannot see well, but she hasn't told her daughter.

Glenna, star of the soap, is a good friend of Piper's. She meets Glenna's fiancé, Casey Walden; they are planning a Christmas Eve wedding, and because the show is moving from New York to California , Glenna is quitting the show. Piper promises that her mother will make one of her beautiful cakes for the wedding. Casey is Glenna's daughter's science teacher at The Metropolitan School for Girls. Glenna shows Piper a note she has received warning her about her fiancé. Piper gives the note to Jack, but he doesn't think it is anything to be alarmed about.

Casey is concerned about his finances. He knows Glenna makes much more money in acting than he does teaching, and wants to be an equal partner in their marriage. He knows there is money in his family's business at Walden Jewelers, but he has always been more interested in science than jewels. Perhaps he should now take an interest.

Someone is experimenting with cyanide to find out how much is needed to kill. The person is planning murder at the auction of The Metropolitan School for Girls.

Piper, Glenna, and several others have been planning the auction. All the players in the drama are attending, Glenna's ex-husband, Casey's ex-girl friend, the soap's director, Casey's brother, and many more. Who plans to kill, and who is the person targeted in TO HAVE AND TO KILL?

Good dialogue and plotting will keep readers guessing and reading this fascinating mystery. Piper is not playing detective—she just happens to be in the right place at the right time (or is it the wrong place at the right time?) The story contains short chapters which makes it an easier read. This is book one with hopefully many more to come in the Wedding Cake mysteries. Each story will involve a wedding and a romance. There is an indication that Piper may have her own romance at some point with the handsome FBI agent—at least there is a bit of romantic tension between the good friends.

TO HAVE AND TO KILL is an excellent choice to curl up with in front of the fire place this winter to read a good mystery.

Marilyn Heyman