While I definitely consider all cozy mystery themes, I am pulled to culinary cozies more than any others. I just can’t seem to resist. And so Linda Reilly’s Grilled Cheese Mysteries popped on my radar a while ago, although I am just now getting around to reading Up to No Gouda, the first in the series. I wish I’d gotten a chance to read it sooner.
After losing her husband, Carly Hale has moved back to Balsam Dell, Vermont, and followed her dream by opening Carly’s Grilled Cheese Eatery. Her location on the town green is perfect. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one who feels that way. Her building has just been bought by her high school boyfriend, Lyle Bagley, and he’s announced that he is going to kick Carly out and remodel the store so his fiancée can open a clothing boutique there.
Naturally, Carly is bummed about having to move. But before she can begin the process of finding a new location that will work, Lyle is killed behind her store. Suspicion falls on Suzanne, one of Carly’s employees. Carly might not have known Suzanne long, but she knows that Suzanne couldn’t have killed Lyle. Can she prove it?
Seriously, grilled cheese. Which culinary cozy lover could resist that as a hook for a new series? My mouth waters just thinking about it.
And the characters are just as appealing as a grilled cheese sandwich. Carly makes a good main character. Over the course of the book, we learn a little bit more about her past and her life with her husband. While a main character moving on from a past relationship is a common part of a cozy mystery series set up, I appreciated that Carly is a young widow. Yes, she’s had some time to mourn, although it is obvious the pain is still there. It’s nice to see something other than the commonly used break up.
Carly has a couple of employees, and I loved both of them. We get some surprises from them. Yes, there is a potential love interest, and he also is outside the normal tropes, which, again, I loved. Honestly, many of these characters are just a little outside the box, and I truly appreciate the thought put into them.
The plot is good as well. The pace is a little slow but mostly steady as we meet suspects who are just as unique as the main characters. There are some good twists on the way to a surprising climax that works with what has come before.
Yes, this book will make you crave grilled cheese. In fact, I’m not quite over that craving yet. There are three grilled cheese recipes at the end of the book that you’ll want to sample after reading this book.
I will definitely be returning to Balsam Dell to find out what Carly gets up to next. Stock up on cheese, then sit back and enjoy Up to No Gouda.