Dying to Be Thin: A Fat City Mystery by Kathryn Lilley.
Genre/Category: Girl Reporter turns Amateur Detective in a diet center comedy.
Setup: 26-year-old Kate Gallagher is an award-winning TV News producer with a camera-ready face but a behind-the-camera (size 16) body. She wants to be a reporter, so when she’s laid off from her job in Boston, she checks into a diet clinic in Durham, NC – and even sells a series on her weight loss to Durham’s channel 12 news to help finance it. Only trouble is, the head of the clinic is found dead the day after she checks in….
HAES message: No.
Why’d I read it: Amazon kept recommending this book to me and I was curious. So I got it from the library.
(warning: some spoilers follow)
- Kate has an fun, readable “voice”.
- Story moves at a steady clip, with a wide cast of suspects and unexpected twists and turns.
- Plus-sized protagonist attracts romantic attention and is good at her job.
- Kate’s work as an investigative reporter is believable and the “behind-the-scenes” information about how TV news is created is geeky fun.
- Skewers some diet tropes: the initial diet at the center is fruit supplemented with protein paste; the clinic’s founder enjoys eating ice cream sandwiches while lecturing the clients on how they need to abstain from treats and is found dead with fondue forks in his eyes.
- Diet details could be problematic to those with eating disorders.
- A diet or exercise tip begins each chapter, which could also be a problem.
- Some descriptions of supersize residents of the diet center are over-the-top: the gregarious 400-lb Jake is described as “extremely tall, and his width matched his height” and “lurches with a Frankenstein gait”.
- Characters joke that fat people eat more than thin people, cheat on diets, etc.
- Kate is thrilled that she loses 9lbs during the week in time covered by the book.
- The cover evokes the image of the fat woman with a thin woman inside.
End message: Kate finds the killer, gets a job as an investigative reporter at the local Durham station, no weight loss required – but she intends to lose weight anyway. Kate also begins a new relationship.
Other notes: In an interview, author Kathryn Lilley states that “Usually, women who are struggling with their weight are relegated to the back row, in terms of career and sex appeal. But Kate is gorgeous, and she knows it! By the end of the novel, she has not one but two love interests!” In the acknowledgments, Lilley says that she made the pilgrimage to a Durham weight-loss clinic to lose weight for an on-camera TV news job. On her website she is described as a former television journalist and lifelong dieter.
Bottom line: I giggled my way through it & liked it enough to get the sequel from the library, but have not bought it.