Monday, June 10, 2019

Book Review: Malice Domestic 14 - Mystery Most Edible edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong stories of culinary crime
Cons: A couple stories, theme a bit repetitive if read back to back
The Bottom Line:
Food served with murder
In short story collection
Meant to be savored

Delicious Short Story Collection

The return of the Malice Domestic short story collection happened to coincide with my first time attending the convention.  I started buying the collections that year, and even though I haven’t been able to attend the last couple of years, I have continued getting them.  I could hardly resist this year’s considering the theme.  I mean, with all the culinary cozies I read, how could I pass up Mystery Most Edible.

This book contains 36 short stories, and I’m sure it isn’t a surprise to learn that they all revolve around food.  That means there is plenty of poison involved as one person or another eats or drinks the wrong thing.  However, that’s not always the case.  In fact, some are fantastic twists on the theme, like Nancy Cole Silverman’s story “The Gourmand,” which features the wife of a renowned food critic.  Fan of historical mysteries?  There are entries by Victoria Thompson, Harriette Sackler, and Stephen D. Rogers.  And for pure fun, it’s hard to pass up Parnell Hall, who, as their year’s honoree, introduces the collection and provides the first story.

Parnell’s story features his series sleuth, Cora Felton, as she solves a murder at a tea party.  Any fan of the series will immediately start laughing at the premise since it is so not Cora, and she notes that as well.  Some authors also feature their series sleuths.  Leslie Budewitz takes us on a honeymoon with the main characters of her Food Lover’s Village series.  It was great to catch up with a couple of the characters in Elizabeth Perona’s series.  Most of the stories feature character the author has created for this particular story or characters an author returns to for short stories.  Either way, the authors are good at making these stories self-contained.  There might have been a wink that fans of a series will enjoy, but for those of us meeting the characters for the first time, we aren’t left wondering who all these characters are.

I read this book in a few days, scarfing down as many stories as I could at a time.  Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had savored it over many days, maybe only reading one or two at a time.  I actually set aside a culinary cozy I was thinking about reading next in fact since I was ready for something different in my reading diet.

Now, this isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the stories here.  There are plenty of good twists and enjoyable characters to keep us turning pages.  However, the theme got a little repetitive.  That’s one thing that made stories like Nancy Cole Silverman’s stand out – the creative way into the theme.

Of course, there were a few stories that weren’t to my taste, especially stories where the villain managed to get out of the hot water they should have been in for their crime.  But the vast majority of the stories were delightful convections that went down easy.

If you are looking for recipes, a staple of the culinary cozies I read, you will be disappointed.  I must admit, one or two of the items described really made me with for a recipe since I would have loved to try it out.  But, since this collection is almost 400 pages as it is, I certainly understand why recipes weren’t included.

If you just have a few minutes here to there and want a delicious mystery to fulfill your cravings for something to read, definitely check out Mystery Most Edible.

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