Barbieri's debut gets a solid B in the romance department and a C- in mystery development. The hero and heroine are both likable, and you root for them to get together, but the murder gets sidelined somewhere between too many clonks to the head, abductions and bouts of nausea. (The heroine throws up on the hero's shoes when they first meet -- it's a case of "meeting puke" rather than "meeting cute.") Secondary characters, for the most part, are cliches, including a mafioso dad, crazed stoner student, ballsy best girlfriend and philandering ex-husband. The food and eating scenes, however, are lip-smacking good. Don't read this on an empty stomach!

When English prof Allison Bergeron's car is stolen, it's only the beginning of her problems. When it's found, the body of one of her students is in the trunk. Now not only is she a suspect in the murder, she's got New York police detective Bobby Crawford on her case -- and on her mind. (St. Martin's Minotaur, Nov., 272 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Liz French