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Blind Dates Can Be Murder
by Mindy Starns Clark

Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

"...the best of Chick-lit meets Agatha Christie."

Put a heavy-duty zip-closure plastic bag into the shoe, pressing it with your hands against the toe. Carefully fill the bag with water until the toe area is full, then zip it shut. (To be extra careful, you might want to double-bag it.) Repeat for the other shoe. Set the pair on a cookie sheet or flat baking dish and put them into the freezer for at least twenty-four hours. As the water freezes, it will expand, stretching the toes.

Jo Tulip, a modern day Martha Stewart, launched herself into the 21st century with a daily blog of household hints. Traffic tracking stats demonstrated heavy readership whenever Jo wrote about her love life … or lack of.

Eager to increase readership, Jo succumbed to the suggestion of her agent to register with Dates & Mates, a new internet dating service in Mulberry Glenn, PA.

Eagerly, with a touch of anxiety, Jo prepped herself for a blind date with a “perfect match” at the local steak house. Expecting a tall, dark and handsome stranger, Jo has to bite her tongue and swallow the bile rising in her throat as a short, fat and balding man with bad asthma plops down in the seat across the table. Determined to enjoy the food, Jo attempts to make the best of a bad situation until the date takes a dive – literally! Her date’s airways constrict causing him to collapse. Jo searches the man’s clothes for a rescue inhaler, only to discover the inhaler is empty. While the wait staff call 911, Jo scrambles through the parking lot to the man’s car in search of a back-up inhaler. Instead, she finds a tall, dark and handsome stranger tied up in the trunk!

Members of the mob are puzzled by the death of one of their king pins, thinking Jo Tulip has something they have been seeking for several years. The plot twists and winds its way through the pages, complicated by a secondary love plot! Jo’s longtime friend, Danny Watkins is in love – with her! Danny rehearses his declaration over and over in attempt to find the perfect words to convince Jo she loves him back but doesn’t know it yet. As can be expected in a mystery novel, things don’t go as planned.

Blind Dates Can Be Murder is a roller-coaster ride read that will leave you breathless at times, white-knuckled at others. It’s like the best of Chick-lit meets Agatha Christie. Mindy Starns-Clark steps up the action and the romantic tension in her second “Smart Chick” novel.

Christian themes are presented through the actions of the characters, a nice improvement over the first book as both Jo and Danny wrestle with letting go of their own desires to seek God’s will in their lives. The only disappointment is that Starns is only writing one more Jo Tulip book, Elementary My Dear Watkins, to be released early in 2007. Maybe if she is bombarded with fan mail, she’ll reconsider…

Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.