Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Memorable characters and a complicated mystery
Cons: Most series regulars only get cameos
The Bottom Line:
Pastry chef’s death
Complicates foodie weekend
New setting still fun
Only a Finicky Reader Wouldn’t Love This Book
Two of the biggest themes in the cozy mystery world are pet cozies and culinary cozies. Expertly balancing the world between the two is Liz Mugavero, whose main character creates organic treats and meals for pets. Murder Most Finicky is the fourth book in the series, and it’s another winner.
Kristan “Stan” Connor has agreed to participate in a culinary weekend in Rhode Island with famed chef Sheldon Allyn. Sheldon is looking to put together a great group of chefs he works with to pull off an impressive dinner for a potential group of investors, one of whom has a cat. If they are happy, there might be a Food Network show for all of them plus money to help Stan expand her Pawsitively Organic pet treat business.
The location of the weekend is top secret; in fact, everyone is blindfolded on their way there. The only chef missing for the grand unveiling is pastry expert Pierre LaPorte, but Stan quickly finds him with his throat slit. How did he find out the top secret location? Who else knew where it was in order to kill him? Those are just the beginning of the questions as more and more strange things happen. Can Stan survive long enough to figure things out?
The book is mostly set in Rhode Island, and the supporting characters we have come to love over the previous three books are still at home in Connecticut. To be perfectly honest, I missed them. We did get some updates on them via phone calls, but they aren’t as prevalent as normal. That’s my only complaint with the book, and it’s a minor one. Still, I’m hoping we are back to Frog Ledge, Connecticut, and all of our friends there in the next book.
To make up for that loss, this book is filled with a wonderful cast of suspect characters. They are all a bit larger than life, but frankly that added to the fun. It also made it easy to remember who they all were as the plot progressed. We do get to learn more about Stan as we watch her in this different setting, so fans of the series will appreciate that character development.
Speaking of character development, I do need to amend one thing I said earlier. One of the series regulars does wind up showing up for several chapters. The result is some major character development for this character, and I loved that aspect of this book. I think it will change how Stan interacts with him or her in the future, and I’m looking forward to seeing that. (And no, I don’t think I could have been more vague on who it is.)
The mystery continues to twist and turn in many unexpected directions before we reach the climax. I had no clue how everything was going to be resolved until we got there. Yet, when the villain is revealed, the clues fell perfectly into place.
Even though most of the chefs in this book make food for humans, the recipes in the back are still treats for pets. And yes, they still sound delicious. I think they are healthier than most of the recipes in the culinary cozies I read, too. So if you make these for your pets and sneak a few for yourself, I won’t tell anyone.