As a teenager, I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew and a good mystery has always drawn me. So, on reading the blurb, I was all for the thought of detecting how sugar could play such a huge role in death.
Jesse Clarke, the protagonist, is fresh out of Detective School – well, almost – she’s had one previous case. A publicist by profession, she is really keen to get a few more clients on board for her PI business. Only thing is, she’s not too good at self-promotion and hasn’t quite gained her self-confidence!
Sitting inside her favourite coffee shop one Sunday morning, she is witness to a car explosion that occurs right outside. Her boyfriend, Dom, arrives soon thereafter to join her for breakfast and, in trying to drum up some more business for her, hands one of her business cards to the owner of the sports car, Renzo (“Ren”) Leonardo.
Ren pays her a visit at her office the following morning and after a brief meeting, she agrees to take on his case and do her best to track down the perpetrator.
One thing leads to another, and before she knows it, she’s juggling two different cases – one in the past and one in the present. The characters Helen Goltz introduces in the Ren’s case all connect, but the how and the why aren’t obvious until the final chapters of the book.
This is a “who-dunnit” style mystery which I found to be a very enjoyable read without any of the gruesome scenes we see so often in books these days. Helen has done a good job of creating a somewhat quirky protagonist that I could easily relate to (which I couldn’t help but feel was loosely based on Helen’s own character) as well as wrapping suspense and humour into a story with both likeable and fallible characters.
Fast-paced, with a story line that asks no more of the reader than to follow it as it moves along to its ultimate conclusion, this is bound to get all those armchair detectives wanting to find out how on earth sugar can be involved in death!
Helen Goltz has worked as a journalist, marketer and producer for print and television in Australia for more than twenty years. Postgraduate degree qualified with majors in Literature, Media and Communications, Death by Sugar is her second novel. She lives in Brisbane with her partner and her beloved furry kid, Atlas.