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Death by Chocolate by Toby Moore

Death by Chocolate

by Toby Moore

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This book sounded fabulous but unfortunately for me, it just didn’t live up to its promise. The way I would describe this book is George Orwell meets Jasper Fforde with a bit of ‘Supersize Me’ thrown in for good measure. Personally it is a hard book to review because I like all the separate elements of the narrative but just not together.

Toby Moore is sending across serious messages about the way in which we treat ourselves, each other and the impact of this on services being offered because of the higher levels of obesity than ever before. This is great; it just doesn’t match with the murder investigation running through it. The murder itself is well crafted and I didn’t know “whodunit” until it was revealed, or perhaps this wasn’t the writing and it was the fact that I just couldn’t focus on every word. Sadly, the two narratives did not gel well as one.

There were a few bits that irritated me as I was reading. The use of an asterisk in the word f*t stood out like a sore thumb and distracted me from the story. I understand why the author used this and it is clever but it was off-putting. Some of the character’s names seemed to have been genuinely used so that you didn’t know whether they were male or female; for some readers this may not be noticeable but I kept having to remind myself which gender they were.

The endorsement quotes on the back cover are actually correct (refreshingly) and my dislike of this novel would not stop me from reading another by Toby Moore. All in all, I would actually recommend the novel to others but I was very pleased when I’d finished it. ( )
  SmithSJ01 | Mar 11, 2011 |
America in near future is a very different place. It’s illegal to be fat (except in the states Louisiana and Alabama), and random spot checks are often conducted on citizens, to ensure that they are within their weight limits. Chocolate is now only available on the black market, smuggled into the country, and is known as ‘Brown’. Illegally eateasys are all over the place where people can go to gorge themselves on junk food.

In this new world, Health Enforcement Agent Matt Devlin is juggling the demands of his new job, a volatile work partner, and the pressures of being a single parent (being constantly worrying that his daughter Sylvia is using Brown), and wondering if he will ever find love again. His life suddenly takes a turn for the bizarre when a prostitute named Cupid Frish, who he and his partner stopped for a random weight check, turns up hours later – dead, and covered in expensive chocolate. Devlin and his colleague Kate Strong become involved in trying to solve her murder, and in doing so, inadvertently antagonise Homicide Detective Nathalie Ryan. It soon becomes apparent that Frish had connections to some powerful men in the city – and these men don’t seem to want these connections uncovered….

I have mixed views about this novel. Dystopia is a genre that I particularly enjoy, and it’s not one that often mixes well with humour. (It can be done, as Ben Elton’s ‘Blind Faith’ showed.) There was a lot of potential in the story, but I felt that it ultimately failed to deliver.

There was not much characterisation – Devlin is a likeable enough main character, but I didn’t feel that I ever got to know him. The same can be said for his colleague Kate Strong, and the detective Nathalie Ryan. The two men who are suspected of the murder, Luther Atom and Heston Gotfelt, are little more than caricatures.

There was a decent murder mystery at the heart of the story, which did have a clever twist at the end. However, the story seemed to get a little bit lost amongst all the attempts to draw comparisons between the world in which the story is set, and the world of today (or yesteryear – for example, eateasys are an obvious comparison with the speakeasys which were popular during prohibition).

There were some moments of sharp observational humour however, and I think I would give this author another try. To draw a comparison of my own however, this book was something like eating cheap chocolate – moderately enjoyable at the time, but leaving a slightly dissatisfied feeling afterwards. ( )
1 vote Ruth72 | Mar 4, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141016361, Paperback)

In the Twenty-First Century of Our Lord, Christ the Fit, it has been illegal to be fat for three years, except in Louisiana and Alabama, where they cling to their chicken-fried-fullest-fat-cream-sodden-gumbo-dunkin'-mall-waddling-lives as if their souls depended on it. Matt Devlin is a Health Enforcement Agent. His is humdrum work, busting the eateasys selling illegal burgers and chocolate, checking weight permits, issuing tickets...When a beautiful woman is found dead, dressed only in sweet-scented 'brown', Homicide call for help. It looks like murder, but is it also a food crime? 'Imagine a world where fatty foods and chocolate are illegal, with health enforcement officers doing random spot checks to ensure that you fit into your weight bracket. Well, that's the setting behind this intriguing murder mystery, where a girl is found dead, dressed only in chocolate ...[Toby Moore] gets you turning those pages, trying to suss out who the guilty party is before the detectives do. Brilliant!' - "New Woman".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:19 -0400)

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Packed with explicit ingredients, 'Death by Chocolate' is a detective story set in the fantastical future United States - a society struggling under weight control, global warming and religious corporations.

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