My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received this ARC from an Escape with Dollycas blog giveaway, which in no way influenced my review. I’m obviously coming into an established series with this one but it wasn’t too difficult to pick up. Our protagonist, Robbie Jordan, runs a diner/antique cookware store in South Lick Indiana. She has a young Indian wanna-be chef, Turner Rao, working for her as a cook much to the chagrin of his high achieving parents who’d rather her follow in their well educated footsteps. She’s also a contestant in a cooking contest for the Maple Sugaring Off Festival and one of the judges, Professor Connolly, is a real jerk. He’s also in town for a climate change conference as a climate change denier, in direct opposition to Turner’s father.
Unsurprisingly, Connolly is found dead out on Rao’s property, stabbed with a specialized chef’s knife belonging to one of Robbie’s friends. So with two friends in the cross-hairs, and Turner’s father’s disappearance immediately after Connolly is found dead, Robbie begins to investigate. She is friendly with the police (pretty much a must-have for me reading a cozy) so some of them at least welcome her help. She along with an elderly aunt, and her lineman boyfriend, Robbie begins to investigate the murder trying to clear her friends.
There was a touch of realism in this mystery. Something that bothers me in cozies is how everyone just talks to the amateur detective. In this one, there were several suspects who told her to shove off. Robbie also spectacularly messes up the Rao family on two accounts and they react badly. She even wonders why she is doing this when she’s a chef not a detective.
Over all I enjoyed the mystery. I liked Robbie but I didn’t love her. I know southern Indianans can have an accent (I have friends and relatives there) but it was laid on pretty thick in this with an almost obsession for showing how differently things are pronounced. I’d read another in this series.
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