Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review: Murder on a Silver Platter by Shawn Reilly Simmons (Red Carpet Catering Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong, relatable characters; good mystery
Cons: Pacing issues a few times
The Bottom Line:
Big catering job
As film’s star becomes target
Movie set debut

Big Breaks Can Be Murder

I love movies (just in case you haven’t noticed), so when I heard about the Red Carpet Catering Mysteries, I was immediately interested.  After all, this is a chance to spend some fictional time behind the scenes on movie sets.  The series kicks off with Murder on a Silver Platter, which is as much fun as I hoped it would be.

Penelope Sutherland is living her dream.  She’s managed to get her company, Red Carpet Catering, up and running while still living with up and coming actress Arlena Madison.  While Penelope serves as Arlena’s personal chef, the two have also become friends.  Arlena has just landed the lead role in a movie that could very easily launch her acting career from the B films she’s been doing to becoming a major movie actress, and Penelope has been hired to provide the catering for the project.

The movie is being filmed near their New Jersey home.  After a major snow storm comes through the area, the duo find a dead body near their mansion.  And then the accidents start.  It appears that someone is targeting Arlena.  With each new accident, Penelope is more determined to find out what is happening.  But can she do it while still serving great food?

With a book set in the world of filming, an author can go one of two directions with the characters.  Either they will stay realistic or they will become over the top, demanding people.  Here, author Shawn Reilly Simmons kept them realistic.  Oh, there are a couple that are larger than life, but every single character has a human side.  While I certainly would have enjoyed the humor of seeing divas in action, I found the more realistic characters wonderful, and it helped keep the tone more serious.

Because things are certainly serious when it looks like someone is out to kill a friend.  That’s what Penelope faces here.  While the plot does seem to stall a couple of times, it isn’t long before something happens that makes Penelope suspicious again.  I also liked the fact that she keeps going to the police for help as the situation develops.  Okay, so it might help that Penelope is seriously crushing on the detective assigned to the case, a man who turns out to be an old friend.  Things build to a logical and suspenseful climax that kept me turning pages.

While this is definitely a culinary cozy, it breaks from tradition for the sub-genre by not offering any recipes.  Personally, this is just something to note in passing since it’s been a decade since I tried a recipe from any of the books I’ve read.  This isn’t the only culinary mystery series I’ve read that didn’t have recipes, either.

This book does include a smattering of foul language, something that is normally missing from the cozies I read.  This seems to be a feature of Henery Press books, the publisher here.  While I prefer my books without it, again, it is worth noting only in passing.

There is lots of promise of more wonderful adventures to come in Murder on a Silver Platter.  I will definitely be visiting Penelope again to see what other danger she can find while catering to the stars.


  1. Oh this definitely looks like a book I'd enjoy. I love the movie angle with the food. Behind the scenes of movie making is fascinating and I'm even more interested that it's from the caterer's perspective. This sounds like my kind of book and one I definitely need to add to my TBR!

    1. Yep, sounds like it is right up your alley since your interests in it mirror mine.

  2. How can you go wrong if you combine the two, right?

  3. I like the premise, the scene, and relatable characters are a must. With a 4 star rating, the pacing can't be that bad... Yea, I'd give this one a go!

    1. No, the pacing isn't that bad at all. Definitely worth reading.

  4. I love the little cozy reads for in between books that take a lot of time and brain power. Sometimes it is just nice to read something light and fun.


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