Author: J. A. Lang
This is a new cozy series that I stumbled across and snatched up. I have to share this little gem with you.
Copyright: April 2015 (Purple Panda Press) 240 pgs
Series: 1st in Chef Maurice Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, humor
Main Characters: Chef Maurice Manchot, owner and head chef at Le Cochon Rouge restaurant
Setting: Modern day, fictional Cotswold village of Beakley
Obtained Through: Personal purchase
Chef goes to call on Ollie, his forager, who is overdue to deliver mushrooms to Le Cochon Rouge restaurant. Chef goes to Ollie's house to find his neighbor and law enforcement already there. Ollie is missing. Chef Maurice finds his mushrooms in the fridge tagged with the restaurant name, but he also finds a bag of rare and expensive White Alba truffles. Before long Chef finds his body in the forest, probably during a truffle hunting excursion. Chef believes that Ollie found the rare truffles growing locally (unheard of) and that got him killed. So Chef begins a two-pronged agenda. Get a truffle hunting dog (he has to settle for a pig at the pound), and investigate Ollie's murder to find the truffle location. The more he investigates Ollie, the more he discovers there were plenty of reasons and people to kill him.
Chef Maurice is eccentric, strong willed, posseses few social skills until he wants something, and is all about the food. His character is funny, but not too outlandish. Arthur Wordington-Smythe is Chef's stuffy sidekick friend and restaurant reviewer for the England Observer. Arthur is the proper, everything-by-the-book character to offset Chef's willful behavior. The Odd-Couple redux. Hamilton is the pig that Chef Maurice acquires with the plan of training him to be a truffle-hunting pig. Hamilton gets a few scenes told from his point of view and he adds to the humor. Patrick is Chef's sous-chef and likely heir to the top chef mantle, is an gentle soul who becomes smitten with the policewoman investigating the case. PC Lucy Gavistone is a young policewoman with her hands full with a murder case, let alone with Chef Maurice elbowing his way into the investigation.
The Cotswalds are nicely portrayed and the eccentric English countryside folks add to the overall atmosphere. The plot is lighthearted and flows easily. The book is fewer pages than the average, but it doesn't feel rushed. I felt the pace was steady without much repetition of going back to the same witness time and again. The climax wasn't full of suspense or danger, just a confrontation. But, it was done well. Questions were answered and I was left wanting more.
Fun plot and humorous characters make this an entertaining read. This is my new "go-to" series when I need something light and fun.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list
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