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Kilpack, "Banana Split" (reviewed by Tristi Pinkston) Options · View
Posted: Monday, April 09, 2012 7:49:17 AM

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Title: Banana Split
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Mystery
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 360
Binding: Trade Paperback
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-60908-903-0
Price: $18.99

Reviewed by Tristi Pinkston for the Association for Mormon Letters

Sadie Hoffmiller has been through a lot over the last eighteen months. She has been dragged into mystery after mystery, often at the peril of her own life, in a seemingly never-ending whirl. She is exhausted and needs a break. A nice, long vacation in Hawaii seems like just the thing, and she heads off to the island paradise with visions of sun, sand, and relaxation. But when a tumble into the water turns into the accidental discovery of a bloated corpse, it tips Sadie over the edge, and she doesn’t even want to leave her condo to meet her most basic needs. She even—if you can believe it—stops cooking.

Feeling like a shadow of her former self, she doesn’t want to call her children, her best friend Gayle, or Pete, the man she’s too shy to call her boyfriend. She doesn’t want to admit that she needs help. They’ve always seen her as strong and independent, and if she confesses how badly this situation has thrown her, she just knows they won’t understand.

But then she meets Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she found, and he changes everything. Desperate for answers about his mother, he hunts her down and pleads with her to investigate his mother’s death. He’s certain it wasn’t a drug-related incident, as the police have ruled it, and he needs closure. Sadie feels her old self beginning to return as she realizes that she can’t let this boy live with questions about his mother, and little by little, she is able to push her doubts and fears aside and get back to business—solving crimes.

The setting of this book is described very convincingly, from the foods and the use of Hawaiian words to the trees, beaches, and oceans. I could easily picture myself there, which was a real treat, as are the inclusion of Sadie’s recipes, for which this series is famous.

It was a very interesting plot twist to see Sadie this weak and vulnerable. I believe it allowed the author, Josi S. Kilpack, to explore new sides of her heroine and to bring out even deeper strengths we didn’t know Sadie had. Strength isn’t always made manifest in the way a person goes and goes without stopping. Strength is sometimes shown to its best advantage when we see someone who has fallen get back up, and that was very well shown in "Banana Split."

This is a great read not only for those who love mysteries, but for those who want to dig a little deeper into the leading character and come to a greater understanding of how fiction can help embolden us in real life.
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