Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Review: The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames (Cheese Shop Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters that grow on you and a decent plot
Cons: The beginning of the book doesn't grab you as much as later parts do
The Bottom Line:
A weak beginning
Is the only weakness here
Book is great by end

Insert Cheesy Title Pun Here

As much as I enjoy cozies, I tend to get very tired of all the hobby/foodie cozies.  Just when I think they've covered the complete gamut of possible interests, a new one comes out.  I almost passed on The Long Quiche Goodbye, the first in the new Cheese Shop Mystery series, but I decided to give it a try.  I'm glad I did because it turned out to be fun.

Charlotte Bessette and her cousin Matthew have recently taken over the family's gourmet cheese shop in the small town of Providence, Ohio.  They are doing some remodeling and adding an area to host wine tastings.  Everything seems set for a wonderful grand reopening, until someone is murdered just outside the shop's front door.

The police have one suspect, Charlotte's grandmother.  And they have good reasons, including the fact that Charlotte's grandmother was found kneeling over the victim covered in blood.  But Charlotte knows there has to be another killer.  Can she find that person and clear her grandmother?

The beginning of the book made this seem like another of the formulaic mysteries that we seem to be getting with these type of cozies.  For example, the characters were quirky, but didn't quite feel like real characters to me.  But as I continued, the characters began to be fleshed out.  No, they weren't completely real by the time the book ended, but I had grown to like them.

Likewise, the plot took a while to get going.  There are some great scenes in the first few chapter, culminating in the murder, but then things stall out for a bit as it focuses on some sub-plots.  Fortunately, the story picks up again after 50 pages or so and really kept my interest until I reached the end.  I had a couple of sub-plots figured out correctly almost as soon as they were introduced, but I didn't guess the identity of the killer until just before Charlotte figured it out.

This may be a debut novel, but it is well written.  Charlotte's first person narration keeps things light and injects a light sense of humor.  The descriptions of cheese are excellent.  I may have gotten drool on a few of the pages, but I will plead the fifth if you accuse me of that.

Speaking of the food, as is usually the case with foodie mysteries, we are treated to recipes in the back of the book.  There are four here, including a risotto and a quiche that both sound quite delicious.

It took me a while to get into The Long Quiche Goodbye, but I'm glad I took the effort.  By the time the story ended, I found I really liked the characters.  I plan to keep my eyes open for the sequel so I can sample it, too.

From here, you'll want to move on to the rest of the Cheese Shop Mysteries in order.

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