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The Flab Five Supper Club has met for six months now, and everyone is starting to slip and gain back the weight they lost at first as Fit to Die by Ellery Adams opens. So when Veronica Levitt opens the Witness to Fitness weight loss center, the group decides to sign up, despite its hefty cost. But a few doors down from Witness to Fitness, a man opens The Polar Pagoda, a specialty ice cream shop, and "Ronnie" takes every chance to attack the shop. The Saturday after the group signs up, they attend the fire department stew dinner, the annual major fundraiser for the fire department. But then the alarms go off, and the fire trucks race to the Polar Pagoda, which has burned to the ground. But worse, Pete, the surly former high school janitor who has just gotten a new start on life by getting hired by Willie, the owner of the Polar Pagoda, is found dead inside.
Almost everyone writes off the death as a suicide, especially when the analysts find valium in the Jack Daniels bottle found in the debris. But Pete's friends know that he never drank Jack Daniels. Further, Pete never smoked either, being hooked on chewing tobacco, but the investigators found cigarette residue next to the body. So they assume that the fire was set by the cigarettes' lighting the whiskey that Pete supposedly spilled on the ground. These questions and a personal understanding of the character of Pete inspire the Flab Five team to do their own investigating.
In the meantime, life continues. The group endures the repetitive, cardboard- like food and grueling workouts while trying, sometimes successfully and other times not so successfully, to stay away from junk food. The Shenandoah Valley County Library, run by James Henry, holds a Spring Fling, complete with pig races and ladies' hat competitions. And James advances his romantic life in addition to rekindling his relationship with his father. But the murder still lingers amid all of them.
This book began a little slow, but it sped up as the book continued. The plot focused less on mystery than most cozy mysteries and books by Adams, but I found myself gripped by the book due to the lives and adventures of the characters. The conclusion to the mystery surprised me, but it seemed perfectly reasonable once I learned the solution. I got a clear image of the bad food that the dieters have been forced to eat and the tempting food that lures them. And then I really identified with the struggles of the Supper Club members as they try to exert all their willpower to restrain their appetites and the guilt they experience when they give in to temptation.
I particularly enjoyed the characters in this book, especially the identical twins, Francis and Scott Fitzgerald, who work at the library and plan the Spring Fling. I laughed when they explained to a woman wanting to find girls for these creative men that they were looking for identical twin girls who love sci-fi and Star Trek and the Discovery Channel. All the characters, however, came across memorably.
Karen White does a notable job in performing the audio edition of this book. She does an effective job of pacing and expressing herself as she articulates the book. She really does make this book all the more effective as I listen to it.
Overall, though Fit to Die begins rather slowly, I had a good time listening to the book. It was a lot of fun, and the idea of the supper club was very unique and creative. I can't think of any series with even a remotely similar theme. I give the book four stars.
Book 2 in the Supper Club series. I'm glad that this series is being released in audio. I started the series previously, but am not able to read printed books or to even easily read ebooks, so audio books are my primary way to "read". In the second entry in this series, the main characters are developed even further, and are becoming more familiar - like new friends that you are getting to know better. I was glad to see that James and his father are forging a better relationship, and that James and Lucy eventually cleared up misunderstandings. While the mystery is well developed, the characters personal lives are as important to the plot as the solving of the mystery. The fact that all of the "Flab Five" have ups and down in their battle to lose weight makes them more real and it is easier for the reader to identify with their struggles. This is a good book in a good series and I look forward to future releases.