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Provided by Shadow Mountain
"Banana Split" is the next installment in the culinary mystery series by Josi S. Kilpack.

"BANANA SPLIT," by Josi S. Kilpack, Shadow Mountain, $18.99, 360 pages (f)

Sadie Hoffmiller has been through a lot, and it's taken its toll.

The once confident, breezy busybody detective is hiding out in Hawaii for this book and despite her best efforts to stick to herself, she's once again caught up in a murder mystery.

She's aware that she's changed and is pretty gunshy, so much so that she stoops to the low point of heating up a pre-packaged burrito for lunch. (For shame!)

She doesn't take very good care of herself and keeps the blinds drawn rather than expose herself to the big, bad world outside. Things look pretty bleak for her. She's not sure she'll ever snoop and investigate again.

This time, however, a little boy pulls her in despite the fact that he runs from her, steals her cash and uses her credit card to buy himself an airplane ticket.

"Charlie" needs Hoffmiller and, in her way, she needs him, although it puts her in danger to try and figure out what happened to his mom.

Josi Kilpack has matured as an author, and so her heroine and the story are richer and honed more skillfully. The story is nicely told without too much rushing.

There's no easy way to reach the conclusion and no obvious bad guy. Instead, there are a number of people who have something to hide when it comes to explaining the death of Charlie's mother. It makes for intrigue.

Some of the characters are better than others, but everyone has some flaws, so it's never easy to come to conclusions until the very end.

The story is well told, and it quickly becomes a page-turner read.

The Hawaiian aspect is fun and colorful without being intrusive. The child services side of things is pretty realistic. Hoffmiller's slow progress back to her real self is steady and honest.

As usual, Kilpack has included some mouth-watering recipes that almost make one put down the book to try them (except for the burrito).

On the other hand, the book's too good to leave.

if you go ...

What: Josi S. Kilpack book signing and banana spilt party

When: Saturday, March 24, 3-5 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book Salt Lake Downtown, 45 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Web: deseretbook.com

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: [email protected]