Slashing Mona Lisa

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
319 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite

Camarin Torres, investigative journalist. Or at least, that was the dream. She wanted to make a difference, be a champion for the underdog, and yet with university just a few weeks from over, she was the only person without a job lined up. That was until fate intervened with an unexpected encounter. But still, she had a vision of her future, and Trend, the guilt pumping, judgmental, "you are how you look" magazine was so far from who she was and what she stood for. But it was a job, and the new owner seemed intent on remaking the image into something she could align herself with. In her own time Camarin works on her story, the Blubber Be Gone murder, determined to expose the killer and give them a voice, but little does she know how dangerous a path she walks.

Slashing Mona Lisa is a well conceived, well constructed murder mystery by D.M. Barr. Be prepared to be taken on an emotional journey of haters, shamers, and murder. You meet Camarin, and soon are rewarded with a deep insight into her character and motivations. The characters are as vivid as they are unique, from the cockney speaking Rachel to the sassy room mates struggling to make rent. There is no end to the thrills in this book. The investigation is beautifully scripted, creating tension, danger and urgency, with more and more bodies being discovered the deeper Camarin digs. This is one book you will not want to put down; you will find yourself wanting to see what happens next. Romance, love, danger, suspicions, murder, and mystery, all combined in one hell of a tale that also serves to make you more aware of the intolerances this world displays, and maybe, just maybe, realize the extent to which your own actions can affect others. A clear message in a gripping story.

Jack Magnus

Slashing Mona Lisa is a contemporary sleuth murder mystery novel written by D.M. Barr. Camarin Torres had one month to go before she graduated from NYU, and she was beginning to think she’d be the only one of her group to graduate without having a job lined up. She had just been interviewing in White Plains and was waiting for the train to take her back to the city, when she stopped to help a young woman buy a KitKat from a vending machine. When that candy bar was rudely stolen by a fat-shamer, Camarin’s warrior instincts kicked in, and she pursued the slender woman who was stunned by the ferocity of Camarin’s response.

Camarin was planning to go to law school once she acquired the funding and, for now, she wanted to work as an investigative reporter. When she got on the train, she was surprised when a good-looking man, she guessed in his early forties, asked to sit next to her. His name was Lyle Fletcher, and he just happened to be the publisher of a magazine. While it was a gossip and fashion-oriented magazine that perpetuated the kind of superficiality that Camarin loathed, Lyle promised that he was changing the magazine’s focus and hoped she’d help him. He had seen her rise to the defense of that young woman and had been intrigued.

D.M. Barr’s contemporary sleuth murder mystery novel, Slashing Mona Lisa, has marvelous characters, a mystery plot studded with red herrings, plenty of action and a romantic story that is one of the more intriguing I’ve come across in a while. All this, and Barr also manages to write an empathetic and compelling story about a current social ill -- fat-shaming in a culture that prizes thinness, youth and good looks over everything else. Barr’s story crackles with tension as Camarin finds common threads in murders taking place across the nation and decides to go after the story on her own. I was instantly enchanted by her Chamorro identity, her idealism and her resourcefulness. I loved the story and hated for it to end. Barr’s characters had come to seem like old friends, and her investigative journalist/sleuth surely does merit a few more good mysteries to solve. Slashing Mona Lisa is most highly recommended.

Susan Sewell

In the suspenseful mystery novel Slashing Mona Lisa by DM Barr, selling hope to the demoralized obese community for profit may become a life-threatening vocation. Newly graduated journalist Camarin Torres has fought weight-related issues her whole life and despises everything related to the media's skin-deep tactics of defining beauty. In an unexpected turn of events, Camarin is offered the position of investigative reporter for "Trend," a magazine that showcases everything Camarin abhors. Despite her misgivings, Camarin takes the job. She aims to restyle the body shaming periodical and give it a radical new outlook. While following a news story about the brutal slaying of a weight-reduction entrepreneur, Camarin uncovers a dark scheme where someone is murdering weight-loss promoters. Going undercover to get the story, Camarin unwittingly puts herself, her friends and her family in danger. Framed for the stabbing of a highly proclaimed self-acceptance guru, Camarin can no longer go to the police with the information she has gathered. How can Camarin expose the killer before she becomes the next victim?

Filled with intrigue and suspense, Slashing Mona Lisa is a stunning sleuth mystery novel. This mesmerizing story relates the sad truth about the difficulties and heartbreak experienced by those who are ostracized for their weight challenges. The accurate depiction of the repercussions which stem from the bullying and abuse these victims receive from their own families, peers, coworkers, and the world at large is heartrending. I could almost understand the rage that fueled the murderer. Although fat shaming may be a significant portion of the plot, the murders and Camarin's investigation balance the scales, keeping the story fresh and exciting. Fabulous characters, a suspenseful and complex plot, and a brilliant story line make this an outstanding murder mystery novel. However, I would recommend it only to a mature audience as it contains explicit sexual scenes and is more suitable for adult readers.

Mamta Madhavan

Slashing Mona Lisa: A Novel of Romantic Suspense by D.M. Barr revolves around the theme of weight loss and body shaming. Leticia Regan, owner of Illinois’ original Blubber Be Gone weight loss clinic knows she is not in the weight loss business and marketed the world’s most desirable commodity: hope. Most people want to be slim and look good. Camarin Torres is a journalist who has lost her sister who suicide over being obese. The story opens with Camarin meeting Lexie as she is waiting for her train. Lexie reminds her of her sister Monaeka who like the girl liked Kit-Kat. It is in the train she meets Lyle Fletcher who tells her that he had spent his entire life practicing law and now has decided to purchase a failing magazine. He wants to make it profitable again. She takes up a job with Lyle Fletcher who owns fledgling fashion magazine, Trend. There is nothing about the publication that attracts Camarin; it represents everything that she hates: judgmental contents and the brainwashing of women to fit into narrow roles dictated by fashion designers. The twist in the story takes place when Camarin instead of going to Washington for an interview decides to go to Philadelphia. She has been reading up on the Blubber Be Gone diet clinic owner killing and has found other similar murders. Camarin feels the pattern is some way connected to weight-loss evangelist Terry Mangel and his traveling revival show. Will Camarin be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Terry Mangel and his world before she also meets a tragic end?

Readers are pulled in by the intrigue as the story unfolds, and the author weaves in mystery, suspense, and romance around themes of weight loss, dieting, and body shaming. The plot also indirectly throws light on love and acceptance, and the lengths people will go to achieve that; be it by losing weight through dieting or by joining local weight loss clinics. The story is not the usual murder mystery one usually finds and there are many layers to the plot, which makes it a compelling read. All the characters are well portrayed and they stand out with unique strong personalities and individuality, which makes them real and memorable.

Deborah Lloyd

Letitia Regan, owner of Blubber Be Gone, a weight loss clinic, came to a horrendous demise. Similar murders were occurring in various cities, and all the victims worked in the weight loss field. Camarin Torres, a soon-to-be graduate of journalism and pre-law at NYU, met magazine owner Lyle Fletcher on the train one evening. Lyle had recently purchased the failing magazine Trend; he offered Camarin a job as an investigative reporter for the magazine. Camarin had one condition – she would only write serious pieces of journalism. Lyle agreed, stating his goal was to transform the light, fluffy magazine. Camarin, a Chamarro (her mother was from Guam) from Los Angeles, grew up with her mother’s constant admonitions about staying slim in order to fit in. Her twin sister, Monaeka, gave her life for this goal. Camarin’s dedication to end fat-shaming in American culture led her to look into these murders, leading to some harrowing moments in the novel, Slashing Mona Lisa, written by D.M. Barr.

The relationship between Lyle and Camarin adds an interesting element to this fictional work. Lyle has his own intriguing history, and it is not clear until the end of the story exactly what his interests are. There are a host of other captivating characters – including Camarin’s roommates; Hans Wynan, executive editor of Trend; Terry Mangel, the leader of the Feel Good About Yourself program. Author D.M. Barr has developed a unique romantic suspense novel in Slashing Mona Lisa – a novel where the pieces of the puzzle do not fit together until the last chapters. Overall, an engaging read!