by Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant
Berkeley Prime Crime, 2009. ISBN 978-0-425-22598-1.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 03/11/2009
If "how I spent my summer vacation" is an essay topic for soon-to-be second-year social work graduate student Chloe Carter, she's going to go right over the word limit. She has quite a summer to tell about.
In the fourth offering of the "Gourmet Girl Mysteries" by mother-daughter team Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant Fed Up, Chloe has lots of adventures—and problems on her hands. She planned to spend the summer selling environmentally-sound rain barrels in and around Boston for her somewhat zany parents' landscaping business. She expected to use her extra hours helping her best friend plan her wedding, and to enjoy her boyfriend Chef Josh's company and cooking. Plenty to fill a summer.
Then while Josh is the featured chef on a reality cooking show, the woman diner takes a bite of his scrumptious lamb chop and shrieks. She doesn't shriek for long. In a few minutes, she is dead—poisoned with digitalis. Chloe, who sees herself as a latter-day Nancy Drew, tackles the mystery and manages to solve it, but not without excitement and some rather comic scrapes.
While the story has a light-hearted approach and some interesting subplots about wedding planning and flowers; especially foxglove; there are also serious moments—especially those dealing with the relationships between mothers and daughters. This is a cozy series with lots of appeal. Who knows where and when Chloe will confront her next mystery? I'm sure she will.
I face a dilemma about what to do with the book now that I've read it. Do I slip it into the bookcase with my collection of mysteries? Or does it join the ranks of cookbooks on the kitchen shelf? It's hard to decide, for a bonus lies within its pages, a collection of great recipes. (Yes, even one for lamb.) I can't wait for pumpkin season to try the wedding reception highlight "Pumpkin Stew in a Pumpkin."
Jessica Conant-Park knows whereof she writes—she holds a master's degree in social work, is married to a chef, and is a daughter. Her writing partner and mother, Susan Conant, is an expert on cozy mysteries. She is author of the six-time prizewinning series Dog Lover's Mysteries and, being even handed animal-wise, Cat Lover's Mysteries as well. Learn more about this writing team here.
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