by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
This week we have reviews & giveaways of another fun group of food mysteries-A Soufflé of Suspicion: A French Bistro Mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber, Death and a Pot of Chowder: A Maine Murder Mystery by Cornelia Kidd, Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper: An Amish Mystery by Amy Lillard, Murder with Cinnamon Scones: A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery by Karen Rose Smith, and The Diva Cooks up a Storm: A Domestic Diva Mystery by Krista Davis. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 5 books, along with links you can use to purchase them.
A Soufflé of Suspicion: A French Bistro Mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber
Review by Sandra Murphy
It’s Crush Week which is when all the grapes are ripe and crushed for wine in Nouvelle Vie. Tourists are everywhere, each wanting a unique experience and the best wines they can find. The Bistro restaurant and the Maison Rousseau hotel have new items to celebrate the Sweet Treats Festival, an event filled with croissants, cakes, tarts, and soufflés by area chefs. Mimi, the owner, is thrilled her business is doing so well.
Chef Camille is on a dead run to keep up with dinners and the specials but loves it. Her sister, Renee, is manager for the festival. She may look a bit flaky, but she rules the festival with precision. When Renee is found dead in Camille’s kitchen, a substitute chef must be found, as well as a new manager for the festival. Renee’s husband steps into the job even though they were in the midst of a contested divorce.
The former owner of the festival was seen arguing with Renee. Renee had a boyfriend and had moved on—maybe. Camille is also a suspect since Renee was in her house. With all the tourists in town and money flowing like wine, Mimi has to find the real killer in order to save her bistro and her friend.
For a glimpse behind the scenes at a restaurant and boutique hotel, a festival aimed at drawing tourists and wine country, this book fits the bill. Mimi manages to keep her head no matter how much chaos is going on around her. Her friend Jo runs the hotel the same way—when her love life hasn’t got her all flustered.
To say much more would give away the plot so readers will have to jump into the fray, wade through the crowds and grab a glass of wine or a snack to enjoy while figuring out who’s the killer.
As always, Gerber turns out a good mystery and likable characters. The sub plots are as intriguing as the murder. This is surely a place you’d love to visit and hate to leave.
Recipes include Autumn Quiche, Beef Bourguignon, Brochette d’Agneau a la Grecque (lamb with Greek sauce), Camille’s Special Sauce, Champignon Parmentier au Gratin (mushrooms parmentier with cheese), Cote de Porc (pork chops with cornichons), Crème Anglaise, Lobster Bisque, Porc à l’Orange, Pouet Dijonaise, Soufflé à l’Orange, Soufflé au chocolat, Soufflé Salted Caramel, and Vanilla Bean Cookies. Quiche and cookies recipes are given both as regular and gluten-free. This is no low-end joint—these people eat the best!
Death and a Pot of Chowder: A Maine Murder Mystery by Cornelia Kidd
Review by Sandra Murphy
Quarry Island, Maine, is home to Anna, Burt, and their teenage son Jake. It’s a self-contained life for the most part, at least until Anna gets a letter in the mail.
Anna’s mom married young, but it didn’t work out. The only father Anna ever knew was her step-dad. According to the letter, she has a sister from her biological father’s second marriage—and she wants to meet Anna. Their father died and the estate needs to be settled, plus wouldn’t it be fun to have a sister? Anna’s not entirely sure.
Anna invites Izzie to come to Maine, but their day’s visit alone gets interrupted by a phone call. Burt’s brother, Carl, has gone missing. Both are lobstermen which can be dangerous, but with blood found on Carl’s boat, the problem might not be the sea. The presence of a homicide detective says Carl didn’t drown.
Carl wasn’t good with money, had too many girlfriends (sometimes overlapping), and had a tendency to turn up at dinnertime for a free meal. Still, he was fun to be around and didn’t deserve to die young. As Anna well knows, during tourist season, there would be strangers who could be suspects. Off-season? Only islanders and most all of them are friends.
Anna is happy in her life choices, but Izzie’s arrival shows her there’s more to be had. Izzie trained to be a chef, so she can work anywhere. Anna can’t imagine life off the island. During the investigation into Carl’s death, Izzie and Anna decided to ask a few questions of their own. Burt and Carl had argued that last morning so he’s on the suspect list. As the sisters work together, Izzie learns the meaning of family and friends while Anna finds workable options for her own life.
The mystery is a good one. I thought I had figured out who did it and why only to be surprised at the end. Anna and Izzie work together well and are people you’d love to meet, especially if Izzie is cooking. For a glimpse into the life of those who bring seafood to your plate, stop by Quarry Island.
Of course, there are recipes—Mamie’s Québécois Apple-Cranberry Pudding (more like a cake or cobbler), Izzie’s Glazed Lemon Nut Bread or Muffins, Mamie’s Maine Seafood Chowder, Izzie’s Spicy Korean Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes with Soy & Scallion Dipping Sauce, Mamie’s Salmon Mousse, and Mamie’s Anadama Bread.
Expect to find this one on my Best of 2018 list at year’s end.
Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper: An Amish Mystery by Amy Lillard
Review by Sandra Murphy
Kappy’s real name is Kathryn, but since she is the go-to person for Amish kapps, everyone knows her as Kappy. Her best friend is Edie, even though Edie left the community after baptism, meaning most of the Amish shun her now. Edie’s back to care for her brother, Jimmy, who has Down’s Syndrome.
When a young Amish girl is killed after a speeding car hits her buggy, Kappy and Edie ask questions, trying to decide if it was an accident or murder. Mysterious clues are texted to Edie’s cell phone. An Amish man goes missing.
Jack, the police detective, seems to like Edie, as in maybe a romantic interest. Kappy’s pretty sure, Edie likes him too. Of course, she’s not a good judge since she’s put her would-be suitor, Hiram, on a time-out. And then there’s Silas. Both are good men, but is she ready for such a commitment? After all, she has a hard time keeping track of her beagle puppy.
One suspect is Silas’ Aunt Betty. She’s moved in with his family and is making pickles. Green pickles. Traditionally, church pickles, served with meals after church, are white and bland in flavor. Betty’s pickles are green and spicy. Since the dead girl was on her way to deliver pickles, Kappy and Edie wonder if Betty was eliminating the competition—but the Amish don’t drive. It seems every clue leads to a dead end.
This is the second Amish mystery. Kappy and Edie are people you’d love to meet although the way Edie drives, you might feel more comfortable in Kappy’s buggy. Jimmy is an astute businessman and loves animals. Edie and Jack are very different on the surface but would be a good match. As for Kappy, I’m rooting for Silas. He loves dogs and is willing to speak to Edie.
The story is a nice mix of Amish and English, giving readers a unique glimpse into a slower-paced, family-oriented way of life.
Lillard also writes the Wells Landing series, seven of those, and the Amish of Pontotoc books, two of those. Sadly, there are no recipe for white pickles included in the book. Maybe the next one?
Murder with Cinnamon Scones: A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery by Karen Rose Smith
Review by Sandra Murphy
Daisy and her Aunt Iris own the local tea shop, serving up tasty tea blends, baked goods, and a light lunch. Although the menu changes, the cinnamon scones are especially popular and sell out fast.
Tessa, one of Daisy’s employees (chef, kitchen manager, and a super baker), has been dating Reese who owns the local art gallery. Tessa wants to deliver a batch of cinnamon scones for him when she drops by to pick up her sketch book. Reese was supposed to meet a client but it turns out he’s home after all, scaring all three of them. At least Daisy got to see the display of quilts, including a very valuable one, before they left.
Tessa is a little worried. Was Reese’ meeting cancelled or was he spending time with his flirty assistant, Chloie?
When Reese is found dead near the covered bridge Tessa’s been drawing, she’s the number one suspect. Why else would he have gone there except to meet her? He’s been acting oddly so maybe he wanted to break up and she didn’t. Daisy knows her friend had nothing to do with Reese’s death. Asking a few questions couldn’t hurt.
Daisy was married, now widowed and hasn’t dated so she’s never sure if someone is being friendly or flirting. Cade wants to take her to lunch and maybe more. Jonas, well, Daisy’s attracted to him, thought he felt the same but now he’s keeping his distance although he wants to help clear Tessa.
It seems Reese had a lot of secrets, some good and some not so good. It does add to the suspect pool.
This is the second book in the series. I like the depth of storyline provided by characters who are older than thirty. Daisy has a daughter who’s just off to college and has a boyfriend who works for Daisy. Her younger daughter, adopted, just found her birth mother. Daisy isn’t worried about being tossed aside, but will her daughter get hurt or find the answers she’s looking for? Cade and Jonas add a bit of romance. It’s nice to see Daisy’s confusion about a date or friendship. I think it’s something women run into when they try to figure out the current rules of dating after years of being married.
Daisy and Tessa generously shares recipes for Daisy’s Cinnamon Scones, Beef Barley Soup, and Lemon-Pepper Tomato Mozzarella Salad.
Smith also writes the Caprise DeLuca home-stager mysteries (7).
The Diva Cooks up a Storm: A Domestic Diva Mystery by Krista Davis
Review by Cynthia Chow
In Old Town Alexandra, the divorce between Hollis and Cindy Haberman was legendary for the acrimonious battle that cost Hollis a fortune and Cindy her place in society. It’s Hollis’s following marriage that has Domestic Diva event planner and columnist Sophie Winston alarmed, though, as Hollis has just asked how to test whether food has been poisoned. Sophie does have a successful track record at solving murders, but she would much rather enjoy the trendy underground dinner being hosted by socialite Madison Jenkins. The unexpected arrival of Mrs. Haberman #2, trophy wife and possible poisoner, threatens to end the tastings before they’ve even begun, but it’s not until after the party that events take a deadly turn.
More than one Haberman family member lands on the suspect list, and an additional poisoning only confuse matters further. Sophie’s nemesis/neighbor Natasha Smith enters the fray when she makes their life-style rivalry a detecting one, although her desperate man-hunting antics prove to be more entertaining than effective. When a hurricane puts the kibosh on Sophie and BFF Nina Reid Norwood’s Girls’ Trip getaway, the pair engage in night surveillance, do a little non-breaking and entering, herd a rogue bee swarm, and soothe a haunted, socially-awkward professor.
A highlight of this series has always been the dueling advice columns of Natasha and our favorite Domestic Diva. Natasha has always valued appearances over common sense, while Sophie’s more empathetic view favors the bereaved. Heading each chapter, the queries, and witty responses tackle the weighty topic of proper funeral etiquette, but the humor amps up when the advice seekers begin to complain about the warring advice. The theme of mourning and the response to loss takes center stage in this eleventh of the series, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not a surplus of laughs, with most of the barbs landing on the pretentious Natasha. The professional side of cooking is highlighted through the pop-up restaurants, providing mouth-watering details of fine-dining cuisine. Readers are always left wanting one last bite of this reading experience, with the inclusion of recipes winding up a genuinely satisfying experience.
Enjoy Chocolate Truffle Tart with Strawberries, Italian Spritz, Piña Colada, Tomato Bacon Tart with Cracker Crust, Coca-Cola Cake, Apple Coleslaw, Bourbon Garlic Flank Steak, Funeral,Potatoes, A Day at the Beach Cocktails, and Make Your Own Ice Cream Board.
To enter to win copies of all 5 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “yummy,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 14, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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