by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Case of the Curious Cook. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
When a worn rubber washer results in a flood that damages the priceless library collection of Chellingworth Hall, Duke Henry Devereaux Twyst requests the aid of book specialist Bryn Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins has a concern of his own, and it is Henry’s mother who prods him into revealing it. It seems that an inexplicable number of books have disconcertedly and continually been added to his bookstore’s stock, and Bryn worries that it is for nefarious means. Crooks and Cooks, a bookshop specializing in both detective novels and cookbooks, is co-owned by Bryn Jenkins and his daughter Val, a former chef and restaurateur who once had her own television show, “The Curious Cook.” The task taking on what seems to be a practical joke is not the ideal case for the professional women of WISE Enquiries Agency, but with Althea Twyst’s enthusiasm and it being an intriguing puzzle, the women accept.
Using surveillance to monitor the bookshop seems to be the expedient solution to identifying the book-gifter, but the case quickly veers off in an unexpected direction. Inside a number of the mystery volumes are miniature drawings done in the style of Lizzie Llewellyn, a talented artist whose brother was convicted of her murder. Lizzie’s body may never have been found, but evidence and their feuds landed him in prison. The investigators follow the trail back to Lizzie’s mother, who refuses to believe in the guilt of her son, the less talented but more profitable artist. As the WISE agents take on what has become the Case of the Murdered Miniaturist, they each follow different paths while dealing with the personal challenges of their evolving lives.
The Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English women of WISE Enquiries Agency may differ in age, background, and nationality, but they utilize their diverse experiences and knowledge to cleverly resolve their surplus of cases. Carol Hill has the challenge of juggling new motherhood with her professional duties. Mavis and Annie both have new relationships when they least expected them, and posh Christine Wilson-Smythe must learn to trust the man continues to have very shady criminal ties. The dowager Althea Twyst herself goes undercover and discovers just how much her age and sex made her invisible and disregarded by society. Following the lives of these women proves to be as fascinating as their cases, which are always far more complex than they first appear. This third in the series succeeds in giving each of the agents her own moment to shine, while also exploring the perception of art as merchandise, online media, and the marginalization of women. Sharp writing highlights the humor of the characters even while tackling serious topics, making this yet another very enjoyable, fun, and not-always-proper British mystery.
To enter to win and ARC copy of The Case of the Curious Cook, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cook,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 18, 2017. U.S. & Canadian residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
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