A young chef might bite off more than she can chew when she returns to her Alaskan hometown to take over her parents’ diner in this charming first installment in a new cozy mystery series set in an Alaskan tourist town.
When Chef Charlie Cooke is offered the chance to leave San Francisco and return home to Elkview, Alaska, to take over her mother’s diner, she doesn’t even consider saying no. After all–her love life has recently become a Love Life Crumble, and a chance to reconnect with her roots may be just what she needs.
Determined to bring fresh life and flavors to the Bear Claw Diner, Charlie starts planning changes to the menu, which has grown stale over the years. But her plans are fried when her head cook Oliver turns up dead after a bitter and public fight over Charlie’s ideas–leaving Charlie as the only suspect in the case.
With her career, freedom, and life all on thin ice, Charlie must find out who the real killer is, before it’s too late.
An enjoyable first instalment in a new series of culinary cozies set in a little town of Elkview near Anchorage, Alaska. The protagonist of the series Charlotte (Charlie) Cooke grew up in her parents’ diner The Bear Claw, so she knows ins and outs of the business. Charlie went to a culinary school in San Francisco and worked for one of the best restaurants there, with her menus receiving numerous accolades. Unfortunately, her engagement came to an abrupt end after her hotshot lawyer fiancé got a bit too intimate with one of his paralegals, so Charlie came back to her home town and took over running her parents’ diner.
Charlie is smart, friendly, and curious. She gets on well with everyone, unless you count an occasional argument with her chef Oliver, who is opposed to any changes, and who seems to have a rather short temper. After Charlie decides to add a bit of chocolate to one of the diner’s specialities, Oliver storms off.. and is murdered at the same time as Charlie steps out of the diner for half an hour to go home and take care of her cat, Eggs Benedict, AKA Benny. Obviously, Charlie needs to solve the murder mystery to clear her name.
As any good first instalment, Mousse and Murder sets the scene for the series. I love the small-town setting in general (isn’t it ideal for cozies?), and I love reading about Alaska, so this was a match made in heaven for me. We get to know our protagonist, her best friend Annie Jensen who also runs a family business, a small inn which appears to be always full of tourists, Charlie’s budding love interest, local journalist Chris Doucette, Charlie’s family, and lots of other local people. It is not unusual for the first book to seem a bit overcrowded with characters, even if you take into account the necessity for red herrings. I’m sure some of these characters will become more prominent in future instalments.
As far as the mystery itself is concerned, although you might guess the culprit quite early in the book, the reason why Oliver was murdered doesn’t become clear until the very end.
The pace could have been a bit faster, but I liked Charlie’s sense of humour, and the whole atmosphere of the Bear Claw. I don’t think I’ll be trying to make moose meat loaf in the nearest future, but it is great to know I have a recipe for it, should an opportunity present itself.
I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in the series.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Do you enjoy reading mysteries and culinary cozies?
- Have you read Mousse and Murder or is it on your tbr?
- Have you read and enjoyed any books set in Alaska that you would like to recommend?