Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Review: A Side of Murder by Amy Pershing (Cape Cod Foodie Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, location, mystery
Cons: Pacing, one stereotype for several characters
The Bottom Line:
Return to Cape Cod
Leads Sam to discover corpse
Uneven but fun

Murder Mars a Return to Cape Cod

At this point, all of us are ready to get out and enjoy a vacation.  Since that still isn’t possible, visiting tourist locations via fiction is the perfect alternative.  That makes the timing of A Side of Murder, the debut Cape Cod Foodie Mystery from Amy Pershing, perfect.

Samantha Barnes, Sam to her friends, grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but left to go to culinary school and become a famous chef.  However, a viral fall from grace leaves her struggling to figure out what is next, so when she inherits her aunt’s home on the Cape, the timing is perfect.  A new job writing about food in Cape Cod for a local paper is also a wonderful opportunity.

Her first assignment is to review the Bayview Grill, a new restaurant in an old location.  Sam enlists some friends to join her and the evening is going well, until she steps out for air and finds a dead body floating in the water nearby.  Sam knows the victim from before she left the Cape.  The police are quick to view it as an accident, the victim was a known drunk, so the idea of her accidentally falling into water and drowning makes sense.  But Sam doesn’t think that’s what happened.  Can she prove it was more than an accident?

I often say that the pilot of a TV show has to walk a fine line, introducing characters and setting up relationships while also telling us a story.  The first novel in a series has to do that as well.  Sometimes, a series debut errs a bit too much on the side of set up, and that was the case here.  It meant the pacing of the mystery itself was off.  On the other hand, I did like the characters, so I wasn’t too board by this part of the book.

And the mystery itself is good.  It might take Sam a while to figure out who the suspects might be, but I was surprised by several of the things that were uncovered on the way to the logical solution.

As I said before, I really do like the characters.  Sam reconnects with friends from high school.  She has preconceived notions about them, but we see hints of hidden depths to them as the story unfolds.  I’m sure that will be explored more in future books.  The suspects were strong as well, which helped keep me from seeing what was going on too early.

I did have a problem with how some of the characters were portrayed, however.  The older characters fell into some stereotypes that aren’t true.  With one character, I would have understood this characterization, but it was multiple characters.  And for one of these characters, this trait doesn’t fit with what else we know about her.

Being a food centered mystery, we get delicious sounding recipes for a four-course casual dinner with friends at the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed this debut.  If you need a virtual vacation A Side of Murder, pick up this book today.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this one but agree about the stereotype of older people. Sam's tendency towards judgment kind of got under my skin too - especially with her friend Jenny. I do think this series has a lot of potential though.