Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, mostly good cast
Cons: Val’s relationship with her grandfather.
The Bottom Line:
Poison at dinner
Val investigates again
A strong mystery
I Enjoyed This Book and that’s No Scam
I realized that over the last couple of months, I’ve started several new series. Since I enjoyed the series, I don’t mind in the least, but I decided it was time to return to series I’ve enjoyed but I’m behind on. The first step in that goal was reading Scam Chowder, the second Five-Ingredient Mystery.
Val Deniston is settling into her new life in Bayport, Maryland, where she lives with her grandfather and runs the café in the local country club. Granddad has recently gotten a recipe column in the local newspaper despite not having a clue how to cook, so when he decides to host a dinner to impress his new girlfriend, Val gets roped into cooking for him. But she is shocked to learn that the real purpose of the dinner is to confront Scott, a man who scams seniors out of their savings.
Before the confrontation can take place, Scott starts complaining about not feeling well and asks to leave. The next day, he’s admitted to the hospital where he dies from poison. Now Val has to figure out what happened at the dinner to keep her grandfather’s secret safe and keep him out of jail. Can she do it?
If you aren’t familiar with this series, the series title comes from the fact that Val’s grandfather includes recipes that have five ingredients. And that bleeds over into the mysteries, which each feature five suspects and five clues. So I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that there were seven people present at the ill-fated dinner – Grandfather, Scott, and five suspects. Oh, I thought I could eliminate a couple of them early on, but as the book went along, they all became viable suspects with real motives and secrets. When the killer is finally revealed at the end, everything makes perfect sense, and we see what were the five real clues mixed in with the red herrings.
My issue with the book comes with Val and her relationship with her grandfather. His newspaper column is called the Codger Cook, and he lives down to it. His gruff demeaner crossed the line a time or two and really annoyed me. There are some other scenes that almost redeem him, but he really needs to treat Val better.
I definitely want to keep reading the series because the mysteries are very well done. The plotting is sharp and everything is there even if we don’t know what it means yet. The rest of the regular characters are good, and I’m curious to see where some of the relationships are going to go in future books.
And yes, there are recipes in the back. We get six five ingredient recipes here including clam chowder, rum cake, and an interesting sounding dip to name but three.
The needed character growth aside, Scam Chowder is still a good cozy that will keep you turning pages. If you are looking for a strong mystery, pick up this book.
Check out the rest of the Five-Ingredient Mysteries.