fitness kills
Nora Franke is a New York food writer stuck in a rut.  Hoping to get rid of a broken heart (and the extra pounds that came with it), she accepts a job as a menu consultant at an elite fitness ranch in Baja.  With any luck she'll shed the weight, make some friends, and maybe even find a way to get over her ex-lover.

But Nora soon finds there's more than yoga classes, morning hikes and liquid fasts among the flowers and herbs--someone's put murder on the menu, and unless she can solve the mystery of who's behind the death of two of the guests, Nora may just be the next victim.
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Nora Franke has accepted a position as a menu consultant at an elite fitness ranch in Baja to try to lose some extra pounds and distance herself from Max in New York where she's a food writer.

She makes some new friends, but soon there is tragedy when one of their group is found dead on the mountain. Nora didn't know him, so it doesn't affect her as much. But when one of her friends is killed in front of her, Nora is shaken. Then there are attempts on her life. Who is the killer? Is it one of her new friends? The shady ranch owners?

Nora has to write an article on the deaths, so she is able to do some investigating without it looking like she's investigating the deaths. Unfortunately, she's not so sure the killer sees it that way when the attempts on her continue. Can she unmask the killer without putting herself in more danger? And what about Max, has she made any decisions about him?

I really enjoyed this book. Nora is such a great character. The author has done a fabulous job creating a protagonist that has a valid reason for snooping. And she's such fun, too. The locale really lent itself to this story and enhanced it. I look forward to reading more Nora Franke mysteries. I highly recommend this book.

Dawn Dowdle

Max and Nora have each other but their differences make them separate. She thinks he is too controlling and dominating and looks at her career as a food critic and columnist as fluff. She takes a job at Rancho de las Flores in Baja, California in order to revamp the old fashioned vegetarian recipes and when she leaves she will write a book on the new food served at the spa. The first couple of weeks she is lonely because the chef doesn’t want her to make changes. During her third week there is a group of people who go from spa to spa around the country. Nora immediately likes millionaire businessman Alison Evans and Cece who takes the instructor under their wings. One of the group never shows up and his body is found on Mount Chuchuma, his head injury the cause of death. They are not sure if it is an accident or murder until Cece imbibes a drink with
her name on it and dies instantly. It is obvious she is poisoned and Nora believes the same person also killed Alan. She investigates in the hopes of finding the killer and two attempts on her life don’t stop Nora even though Max, who has arrived on the scene, begs her to leave it to the police to find the murderer.

Within the group there are plenty of suspects from a land deal that went south causing some members to lose money to Alan’s in laws who grow and export marijuana to the United States. Nora is a strong willed woman who does what she believes is best even if it means getting Max angry at her. Helen Barer has written an endearing and charming cozy populated with quirky characters.

Harriet Klausner

A debut that introduces an intriguing sleuth...

Kirkus Review

Fitness Kills' turned me into a happy, guilt-free couch potato for a day.  Helen Barer's delicious debut delivers myst3ery, wit, suspense, and hero Nora Franke, just the kind of best friend you'd love to take with you on a spa vacation.

Sarah Lovett, bestselling author of Dark Alchemy and Dantes' Inferno.