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To Have and to Kill: A Wedding Cake Mystery    by Mary Jane Clark Amazon.com order for
To Have and to Kill
by Mary Jane Clark
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Struggling actress Piper Donovan, the lead character in Mary Jane Clark's new book, To Have and to Kill, has suffered the ultimate humiliation moving back in with her parents. In between acting jobs, she helps her mother in the family bakery.

While conducting a charity auction, the auctioneer, a well-loved soap opera actor, suddenly collapses and the audience watches in horror as he dies of arsenic poisoning. Police interrogate everyone at the auction, hoping that someone saw something which would lead them to the killer. Then an attack on the street punctures a wardrobe mistress's jugular vein. And someone is strangled to death with a child's jump rope.

Many possible suspects have motives too tangled to describe, but which keep the reader guessing. I thought I had it all worked out, but was wrong. (My brother would have said, 'I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.' He had a good philosophy.) But I admit I was wrong and delighted to be so. I found the sections in To Have and to Kill dwelling on the art of baking cakes extremely interesting. Were I younger, I might take a cake baking course myself.

The story moves along at a leisurely pace, with a good plot and interesting characters. Though Clark's previous books seemed to have a bit more verve, I still enjoyed this mystery.

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