Review

To Have and to Kill: A Wedding Cake Mystery

by Mary Jane Clark

Piper Donovan, an out-of-work actress, finds herself in the
middle of a mystery. She has just moved back in with her parents
after losing her job on a soap opera (her character was killed
off), and she’s running out of funds. In an effort to make
money and help her mother, she ices cakes and cookies at her
mother’s bakery.

Piper has been invited to the wedding of her friend, Glenna
Brooks, the soap’s female lead. Glenna will soon marry Casey
Walden, a teacher at a local private girls’ school. But
before the wedding, Glenna receives two anonymous letters, each of
which warns her not to marry Casey. Soon after the receipt of the
first note, Travis York, the male lead on the show, dies when he
consumes water from a glass that Glenna almost drank from. The
cause of death is cyanide poisoning. The question becomes not only
who did it, but whether or not Glenna was the intended victim.

A few days after Travis dies, Peggy Gould, the costume director
for the program, ends up in the hospital after being stabbed in the
neck. Then Jessie Terhune, a teacher at the girls’ school, is
strangled. Are the murders connected? And exactly who is the
culprit? (Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find that
out.)

TO HAVE AND TO KILL, the first installment in Mary Jane
Clark’s Wedding Cake Mystery series, has all the
elements of a good murder mystery: enough murders to keep everyone
satisfied and enough suspects to please anyone. And, of course, the
killer isn’t the first person you probably will suspect.

I should note, though, that Clark portrays Piper as a habitual
Twitter user. She tweets often throughout the story, sharing
nuggets from her day with her friends and fans. That’s fine,
but the last time she does so is while she is sitting in her car in
a traffic jam. Clark writes this about Piper’s message:
“As Piper placed her BlackBerry in the cup holder, she felt a
twinge of guilt. She had taken the Oprah Web site pledge to make
her car a ‘No Phone Zone.’ She knew that that included
sitting in traffic. It was just such a hard habit to break.”
While there’s nothing really wrong with the passage itself, I
felt it was an unnecessary inclusion and came off as just a bit
preachy.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book immensely. In addition to the
gripping plot, Clark includes a recipe for buttercream icing at the
end, which was a very nice touch. If future installments are as
well-written as this one, this new series should prove to be
another success for this bestselling author.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on March 28, 2011

To Have and to Kill: A Wedding Cake Mystery
by Mary Jane Clark

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0061995541
  • ISBN-13: 9780061995545