This was the first of Mary Jane Clark's books I'd read, and it was a quick and enjoyable read. There was something about the writing style though that just didn't flow well for me, and I haven't quite been able to put my finger on what it was. I couldn't decide if it was somewhat jumpy, or if we were getting almost too much internal narrative. After stepping back a bit from it, I'm leaning toward the latter.
To Have and To Kill is Piper Donovan, a down on her luck actress, who on the eve of the holiday season is preparing to move in with her parents in New Jersey since living in New York City is a bit more than the unemployed can afford. Her mother runs a bakery, and as we go through the book, we learn her mother is struggling with her own issues. Piper's dad is a *bit* on the "let's be prepared for the end of the world" side and that comes up a lot at various points in the book. (side note, this was a bit much).
Piper's friend and former co-worker on a popular soap opera is about to be remarried and it appears as though someone might be trying to kill her and prevent the wedding. There's a host of possible culprits, from the soap opera producer upset that she's not making the move to the west coast, an ex-husband, unhappy soon-to-be-in-laws...and I will say that Clark does a good job of keeping you guessing as you go through the story. I did figure out the eventual baddie before it was revealed, but that was probably just a bit of lucky guessing on my part.
As Piper does some amateur sleuthing, that brings in the romance aspect of the story. We meet Piper's friend Jack early on...they are very good friends and Piper's afraid to take things to the next level for fear of ruining their friendship. Jack however, doesn't have those same fears. As Jack is an FBI agent in NYC, this plays in well as we see Piper trying to work through the horrible things happening to her friends and former coworkers (and at various times, not actually trying to do any detecting, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time).
This is the first in a series, and while I wasn't overly enthralled by the book, I found it to be a light, enjoyable read. I am interested in the later books in the series now, because I want to see what happens with Piper and Jack, what Piper ends up doing career-wise, and how things work out for her Mom. I think that's a good sign when you can make someone care enough about the characters to read the later books, even if I wasn't quite as sold on some of the writing style itself.