DEATH AT THE TABLE by Janet Laurence

DEATH AT THE TABLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The career of English cooking expert/sometime sleuth Darina Lisle (Death and the Epicure, 1995, etc.) takes a challenging turn when she's asked to join television's Table for Four, a wine-and-food program run by Neil Cantlow, with food journalist Mark Taylor, home economist Lynn Winters, studio director Jan Parker, and budget director David Bartholomew. Another on-camera newcomer is swaggering Bruce Bennett, owner of the respected Yarramarra Wineries back home in Australia. As the series begins to take shape, Darina commutes between her digs in London and the house in Somerset she shares with her police detective fiancâ. Meanwhile, tensions and glitches abound on the studio set, though Bennett's rough-and-ready style and Darina's skillful presentations are building viewership when the Australian, sharing a Christmas toast on-camera, keels over and dies. An autopsy fails to find the cause of death, and Bennett's body is shipped home to his estranged wife Shelley and his sister Kate. Before long Darina gets a letter from Kate announcing her arrival date in London and asking for a meeting, but then Kate also dies--in a fall from her 12th-floor hotel room--before that meeting can take place. With the death of another member of Table for Four, all of Darina's sleuthing instincts are aroused, but what counts are survival instincts when she becomes the killer's next target. A slew of tangled relationships clutters up a muddled plot that lacks convincing motivation but has more than its share of talkative, self-obsessed characters. A stronger focus on the food and wine might have made for livelier reading.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1997
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's