I'll Eat When I'm Dead by Barbara Bourland
When fashion magazine editor Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked room at work everyone assumes it was the pressures of her job. Even if the coroner's report says that the rich woman who lived a ten minute drive away from the nearest Whole Foods died...of starvation. Her death is mourned and forgotten, until one day when a cop shows up at her coworker and friend Kat's office claiming that new cryptic evidence has appeared and that maybe her strange death wasn't caused by her high pressure job after all, that maybe something more sinister was at play.
The best way I can describe this novel is that the poor thing is genre-confused. One some pages it feels like a cozy mystery story that wants to be taken seriously and so it throws in elements from a more gritty murder mystery but it doesn't quite dovetail.
On other pages it picks up feminism, which felt like wearing a dress to a party that doesn't quite fit but it's your favorite dress so you thought you would try but instead you spend the evening getting pinched by small seams. It's not that the points it made weren't valid or important but they didn't flow well within the story.
That's not to say it was a bad book-- parts of it were interesting, the world felt expansive, like there the characters existed in a wider world than you could glimpse through the pages of the book. I love when novels can achieve this feel.
However other parts left me feeling let-down-- some of the interesting questions posed at the beginning of the book turned out to have super mundane answers that could've been found on page two if the cop bothered to ask them. The author tried to weave this feeling of mystery but that's not where she excelled at. She created interesting complex characters that could have had an interesting and complex book, had it not been muddled by the murder mystery plot.
I hate being critical on these reviews because I don't want anyone to give up on this book simply because I thought the waters were muddied by too many genre-attempts. If you like a murder mystery which isn't as soft as a cozy murder mystery, but not so gritty as to be depressing, then give this book a try! Also if you are looking for a book with feminist themes and feminist characters then you might enjoy this novel.
Let me know-- have you read I'll Eat when I'm Dead? If so, what did you think? Did you think it feel into a conventional murder mystery genre or did you think it tried to do too much?