Most people are dying to lose a few pounds. Not so in Slashing Mona Lisa, where it's the weight-loss advocates who are losing their lives.
Whenever Terry Mangel's body acceptance revival meeting rolls into town, local diet execs and "fat shamers" turn up dead, often in grotesque, ironic ways. All single murders in small suburbs, no one's noticed the pattern…until now.
Rookie journalist Camarin Torres is a crusader against discrimination, partially to assuage the guilt she feels over the suicide of her obese, bullied twin sister. She reluctantly accepts a job offered by handsome publisher Lyle Fletcher, a widower with a vendetta, who sees Torres as salvation for Trend, his fledgling fashion magazine. Torres, however, detests everything the publication stands for, and joins solely to transform its judgmental, objectifying content.
As an unexpected romance blossoms, the overconfident, justice-hungry reporter defies orders and infiltrates Mangel's world—only to find herself in the crosshairs of a vigilante group targeting the sixty-billion-dollar diet industry. Unmasking the killer may save her life but shatter her heart: every clue seems to implicate Fletcher, her mercurial mentor and lover, as the group's mastermind.
With a sassy, snarky voice and multi-cultural overtones, Slashing Mona Lisa explores body shaming and its victims: the disenfranchised who don't conform to society's arbitrary norms, and the lengths they will go to for love and acceptance.
Content Warning: contains some strong language, violence, and explicit sexual scenes
by Susan Sewell, Reader's Favorite
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.
By Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
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.