Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J. A. Lang
“They say one should never trust a thin chef. By this measure, Chef Maurice was very trustworthy indeed.”
Take one sleepy Cotswold village, mix in one Poirot-esque murder mystery, add a larger-than-life French chef with an appetite for solving crime, and season with clues and red herrings galore . . .
It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion. Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery—he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village. Soon, Chef Maurice is up to his nose in some seriously rotten business—complete with threatening notes, a pignapping, and an extremely well-catered stake-out. Can he solve Ollie’s murder before his home-made investigation brings the killer out for second helpings? (via Riffle)
I picked up this cozy on the advice of the Puzzle Doctor at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel. True to the Doctor’s word, this is worthy read.
Sure, fine, maybe it’s not on the level of “worthy” as Shakespeare or Dickens, but there is a place for those guys and a place for a French chef solving crimes in an English village with his restaurant critic sidekick, Arthur, and his soon-to-be-well-trained truffle-snuffling micro pig, Hamilton.
Often, I’ll look at a book in terms of what could go wrong. There are a lot of moving parts in Chef Maurice. I started listing characters while reading because I got lost while reading a previous cozy where there seemed to be too many character. I didn’t need to do this because Lang gives the supporting cast enough personality that it was easy to keep the characters separate. There are a couple of scenes from Hamilton’s POV. I’d recently seen the convention of scenes from an animal’s point of view done rather poorly. In Chef Maurice, these are kept light and appropriate. Most importantly, though, the mystery is good and it’s Chef that does the detecting.
It’s also very funny. (Why don’t I read more funny books?) Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle is going on my list of books to recommend during readathons. It’s light, well-written, and entertaining.
Publishing info, my copy: Kindle ebook, Purple Panda Press, April 2015
Acquired: Sept. 19, 2015, Amazon
Genre: cozy mystery
“Changing Habits” by Alice Loweecey
A GIULIA DRISCOLL MYSTERY SHORT STORY
The day Giulia Falcone jumped the wall—that’s code for leaving the convent—her sole possessions were the clothes on her back. Four years later, she’s an official Private Investigator juggling a rash of church vessel thefts and her complete inability to find a wedding gown that doesn’t require her to steal a gold chalice for herself. She’s about to marry her boss despite all the advice about office romance. Giulia is a champion multitasker. The Church is on her back to find the thief. Her all-natural co-worker is insisting she walk down the aisle to the soundtrack for The Sound of Music. Her fiancé’s relatives are overwhelming her with plans and advice and excitement. Piece of cake. She can find the clue that unmasks the thief. She can keep an eye on the music. All she needs is a wedding gown for her own wedding. In four days. What could possibly go wrong? (via Riffle)
“Changing Habits” wasn’t as successful for me as Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle, but that’s probably mostly me. For example, my wedding was super low-key and that was pretty much ideal. But I did want a taste of Giulia Driscoll. I’ll say that it’s quite possible that I’ll pick up Nun Too Soon one of these days. Maybe this series doesn’t entirely fit the cozy mystery pattern–Giulia is a PI, and I enjoyed the more contemporary urban setting–but there was a lot of warmth and humor.
Publishing info, my copy: Kindle ebook, Henery Press, Dec. 2014
Acquired: Dec. 12, 2015, Amazon