As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

June 1, 2013

FAT FARM by Allen Carter, 2012

Amy Crockett was just looking for a relaxing getaway at an all expense-paid weight-loss retreat. What she found was a terrifying ordeal that had her running from the law. She has no idea what has happened to her, but it seems clear that the doctor in charge of the "fat farm" is doing more than teaching people about healthy lifestyles. The sheriff on the case is the only one who doesn't think she has had a mental breakdown. Now Amy and the sheriff must work together to find the evidence to prove that what Amy has seen is reality. What really happens at this idyllic weight-loss retreat? Are the other patients in danger? As Amy and Mike search for the answers, they find themselves developing feelings that are unexpected but not unwelcome. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Kim Harris Thacker: writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk host

When Amy goes to the Rocky Mountain Restoration Center, a beautiful retreat designed to assist its clients with reaching their weight loss goals by helping them change their lifestyle, she has no idea that the center’s methods are unethical. What could be wrong with horseback riding in the mountains, eating healthy meals, and taking nature walks with new friends?  But the center isn’t all it seems, nor is Amy’s stay there.  She wakes up one evening, connected to a leaking IV in an unfamiliar room. Upon realizing she is much thinner, she also realizes she can’t remember how she lost the weight.  After escaping the center, Amy enlists the help of a shrewd (and handsome) sheriff, who has also been contacted by the center’s doctor—a man who pretends Amy suffered a psychological breakdown and ran away. The careful gathering of clues not only leads Amy and Sheriff Hansen to learn the truth of what is happening at the “Fat Farm,” but leads them to fall in love with each other, too.

As a native of a small Wyoming town south of Jackson Hole (which is the same setting as that of FAT FARM), I found the landscape and characters to be true-to-life while also being unique enough to entertain readers who are not from that area.  While ethics in medicine was a central theme of this story, I appreciated that the examination of what is right and what is wrong did not lead to sordid writing.  I also enjoyed the pacing of the book, which was slow enough to allow the romance between Amy and Sheriff Hansen to build naturally, and fast enough to make this book a true page-turner of a mystery.  Indeed, the novel is the sort that can be read in one relaxed sitting.

Readers who appreciate wholesome writing, a thought-provoking mystery, and a healthy dose of romance will surely enjoy FAT FARM.

Market:  Adult Fiction
Language:  none
Sensuality:  very mild (a sweet romance, building between two characters)
Violence:  mild (the main character receives questionable “treatments” without her consent, and there is a threat of a shooting at one point in the book)
Mature Themes:  ethics in medicine, lying, life-threatening situations

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