I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Slashing Mona Lisa by D.M. Barr
Published by Beachwalk Press, Inc. on July 13, 2018
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Killer body or body killer? When fat shaming backfires…
Most people are dying to lose a few pounds. Not so in Slashing Mona Lisa, where it's the weight-loss advocates who are losing their lives.
Whenever Terry Mangel's body acceptance revival meeting rolls into town, local diet execs and "fat shamers" turn up dead, often in grotesque, ironic ways. All single murders in small suburbs, no one's noticed the pattern…until now.
Rookie journalist Camarin Torres is a crusader against discrimination, partially to assuage the guilt she feels over the suicide of her obese, bullied twin sister. She reluctantly accepts a job offered by handsome publisher Lyle Fletcher, a widower with a vendetta, who sees Torres as salvation for Trend, his fledgling fashion magazine. Torres, however, detests everything the publication stands for, and joins solely to transform its judgmental, objectifying content.
As an unexpected romance blossoms, the overconfident, justice-hungry reporter defies orders and infiltrates Mangel's world—only to find herself in the crosshairs of a vigilante group targeting the sixty-billion-dollar diet industry. Unmasking the killer may save her life but shatter her heart: every clue seems to implicate Fletcher, her mercurial mentor and lover, as the group's mastermind.
With a sassy, snarky voice and multi-cultural overtones, Slashing Mona Lisa explores body shaming and its victims: the disenfranchised who don't conform to society's arbitrary norms, and the lengths they will go to for love and acceptance.
Content Warning: contains some strong language, violence, and explicit sexual scenes
Camarin Torres is weeks away from graduating NYU and it seems like she is the only one in her graduating class that does not have a job lined up upon graduation. While taking the train, she meets a handsome stranger, Lyle Fletcher. Lyle is the new publisher of Trend, a fluff magazine that publishes pieces that go against everything Camarin stands for, but Lyle offers her a job as an investigative reporter. Lyle wants to turn Trend from a fluff magazine to something more serious.
Camarin is a crusader against discrimination especially since her overweight sister committed suicide and now, Camarin wants to make a difference against bullying and discrimination. She decides to take Lyle up on his offer hoping she could make a difference. Her first order of business is investigating the recent murder of Leticia Reagan, owner of Blubber Be Gone. When Camarin starts recognizing a pattern of weight loss advocate deaths, will her life soon be on the line as well?
Slashing Mona Lisa starts off with a bang. The opening scene where Letitia Reagan is murdered is reminiscent of the early 80’s slasher movies (My fave!). So, right off the bat I am hooked. What also really grabbed my attention is the premise around Slashing Mona Lisa is all about fat shaming and discrimination. Yes, it is a difficult subject matter, but D.M Barr shows the compassionate side of it as well as the fat shamers who like to bring people down. Although, I think for the most part a lot is changing in society especially around body acceptance and the body positivity movement. Fat shaming is still all too real though and it is a shame in this day and age people still put others down without a thought about the person’s feelings.
The murder mystery surrounding weight loss advocates is another aspect of the story that is done really well. Instead of it being done in a serious, gory way (which it kinda is) its mostly done in a satirical kind of way. Want to lose twenty pounds, well let me chop of your head! All the murders are centered around Terry Mangel’s body revivals. Every time one of his revivals comes to town someone winds up dead and up till now, no one has made any connection until Camarin starts investigating.
There are a lot of secrets in this story and one secret surrounding Lyle which plays our ratherly nicely and kept me in the dark pretty much until the end. The suspense over all was not an easy one for me to figure out and I like when I can’t figure out what is going on right up until the end.
Camarin is a really good character and I found myself really drawn to her and liking her because she stood up for what she believed in. She does have a past with her sister and she feels guilty over her suicide and in a way it has shaped her into the person she is today. The romance between Camarin and Lyle is a slow build and I liked that it was a younger/older scenario which I find very rare. My favorite though has to be Rachel, Trend’s secretary. She was funny and snarky and quick with the comebacks.
Slashing Mona Lisa was a fun mystery that was part serious, part mystery, with a lot of funny moment thrown in between to lighten the subject matter. It was a quick read that I really enjoyed.