“They say one should never trust a thin chef. By this measure, Chef Maurice was very trustworthy indeed.”
It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion.
Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery—he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village.
Why did I read this book? First, because I saw a very, very positive review at the Puzzle Doctor's blog, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel. Second, because I like to try the occasional book outside of my comfort zone, on both ends of the spectrum. Third, because the author contacted me and asked me to read and review it (back in June of this year, I am very slow). I did, however, purchase my own paperback copy.
This book is about 230 pages long, and about 22 chapters. I think it took me about 3 chapters to settle in. From that point I enjoyed it to the end. Some of the characters are over the top, especially the main character, Chef Maurice. Yet I found the characters to be the most attractive part of the book. Even the sleazy ones. I had a hard time believing I would like Maurice's pet pig, who was adopted from The Helping Paws Pet Sanctuary in Cowton to aid in the hunt for truffles. But I did enjoy Hamilton, the micro-breed pig, and his presence did not dominate the story.
Basically, Chef Maurice is interested in food and cooking and his restaurant. All of his motivations are ruled by his search for good foods, supplies for his restaurant, and ... truffles. This is how he sees the policewoman working on the case...
It was PC Lucy Gavistone, of the Cowton and Beakley Constabulary, and the only member of the force who lived in Beakley itself. She ate at Le Cochon Rouge every Sunday lunch and always tipped well.Other favorite characters are Maurice's friend Arthur Wordington-Smythe, a food and restaurant critic and Patrick, the sous-chef. Here they have a conversation about Patrick's dinner date with PC Lucy...
“What if she's an awful cook? Should I lie?”
“Never,” said Chef Maurice, who lied all the time.
“Absolutely,” said Arthur, the happily married man. “Make sure to have second helpings too. The way to a woman's heart is through your stomach.”
Patrick looked pained. “Can I at least offer constructive criticism?"
“Not if you don't want her to retaliate,” said Arthur, patting him on the shoulder. “Especially at a point in the evening when you least expect it.”I thought about adding a bit more description of the plot but decided just to point you to other reviews which do cover that in more detail:
At the Scene of the Crime
Euro Crime (by Rich Westwood)
A Crime is Afoot
My Reader's Block
The real test of how much I like a book is whether I am motivated to buy the next book. I am definitely putting #2 in this series on my Christmas list.
Publisher: Purple Panda Press, 2015
Length: 229 pages
Format: trade paperback
Series: Chef Maurice #1
Setting: UK (Cotswolds)
Genre: humorous cozy mystery