Thanks to Bedford Square Publishers and NetGalley for providing me review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
🥣 Chef Charlie Hunter arrived at Hampden Green, a little village in the Chiltern Hills, an idyllic English countryside, to open a new sheet to her life. She bought Old Forge cafe, and determined to transform it into a high quality restaurant with high quality foods she's capable to cook. It's no matter that she doesn't have financial stability to start with, Charlie is a hardworking and relentless woman, she will progress little by little.
🥣 One thing she didn't count for, is the hostility showed by the locals. First DI Slattery, who seems to dislike her from the start without apparent reason. Then there's the local builder, Dave Whitfield, who's known as a pompous bully - or knobhead, as Charlie's first staff Jess called him. He was found dead few days after Charlie punched him for bullying her. That's right, Charlie Hunter is a tough woman besides a good chef. Of course, this automatically made her a suspect.
🥣 In no time, our chef made acquaintance with the locals. Ollie the drug dealer, Luke the handsome Yoga teacher, the duke and the psychic, are only some of them. One of these new "friends" of hers is a murderer. But which one? And what's the motive?
🥣 As a debut cozy mystery in a series, Coombs has successfully laid her foundation. We get a glimpse of Hampden Green and its inhabitants, also some backstory of Charlie's past. The café's two staffs are interesting additions to our heroine's personality. I only wish that the narrative was made more straightforward, it feels rather redundant. For me the premise is rather dull, some concession in building contractor or others, which I didn't follow very well, but got the gist.
🥣 What's missing in this novel, though, Coombs compensated with the mouthwatering descriptions of the cafe's menu, the morning preps, mise-en-place, the cooking process itself, to the plating. These are what I've picked this book for on the first place, and for that element alone, it's paid off.
🥣 If you love reading food-related cozy mystery, this book would suit you, though for me it's a bit too violent and vulgar to be called cozy. The mystery itself is lacking finesse; at least I could easily guessed the murderer, in spite of the twist, and thought that Charlie should have been less trustful. I can only hope the next on the series would be much improved.
Rating: 3 / 5
**Murder on the Menu will be published on 7th December 2023.