Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Colorful characters and a good mystery
Cons: Characters can spend a bit too long spinning theories
The Bottom Line:
Bar owner murdered
Makes stakes personal for all
Another great read
As Gouda as Ever
I spent some reading time last year catching up on the books of Avery Aames, and when As Gouda as Dead, the latest Cheese Shop Mystery came out, I intended to read it right away so I could stay up to date. Here it is three months later and I’m finally getting it read. Yes, someday my TBR problem will be conquered.
For those unfamiliar with the series, they are set in a small Ohio town and feature Charlotte Bessette, the owner of a cheese shop in town. The crime rate in town seems to be going up since this is the sixth in the series, and Charlotte has the unfortunate habit of getting involved in the growing number of murders in town whether she wants to or not.
It’s days before Charlotte and Jordan Pace are to finally wed when tragedy strikes. Tim O’Shea, the well-loved owner of the Irish bar in town, is found drowned in the cheese vat on Jordan’s cheese farm. Many of their friends are deeply impacted, and it bothers Charlotte and Jordan enough that they decide to postpone the wedding. With the added free time, Charlotte decides to dig in and find the killer. But who would have motive to kill Tim?
I was actually surprised when I realized who the murder victim was going to be in this book since Tim has been a supporting player in the series. We usually only see him for a scene or two, but it’s unusual to have someone like that be murdered in a series like this. I found it gave me more of an emotional stake in the outcome, which I really liked. Yes, there were still the fun sub-plots to help lighten the mood overall. All told, the tone balanced out perfectly.
There is a large cast of characters. Honestly, if I hadn’t read most of the series last year, I’m not completely sure I would have them all straight only because there are so many of them. We got to see some interesting growth in some of them, and another couple were shown in a different light. Of course, the book is filled with suspects in the latest case, and all of them are interesting as well.
As can often be in the case, the characters throwing out theories can overwhelm the clues and red herrings. Yes, we talk to the suspects, but then the wild speculation starts. However, that’s a minor complaint. Overall, the plot progresses well to its logical and suspenseful climax.
And there are the recipes. We get a half dozen new recipes that feature cheese – everything from Cheese Pops to Goat Cheese Cookies. That’s a good thing because reading the book makes your mouth water for cheese. I’m even thinking about visiting my local cheese shop and trying a few new varieties. (No really, I mean it this time.) And in the non-cheese department, there’s a Triple-Chocolate Pudding that sounds amazing.
For fans of this series, reading As Gouda as Dead is an easy decision. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next to Charlotte and her friends and family.
New to the series? You'll want to read the rest of the Cheese Shop Mysteries in order.