A Cheese Shop Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Date Published: July 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Lil
Obtained via Publisher
Charlotte Bessette and her cousin Max are the co-owners of a cheese shop in Providence, Ohio. Their grandparents were the original owners and when they retired, the business was passed to a new generation. Well, this pair has new ideas for the business and is adding a wine section to the venue. In order to introduce the changes, they prepare to hold a grand opening of what is now named Fromagerie Bessette.
There is a bit of a damper to the situation when the very unpleasant landlord decides to try to sell the building. And worse, the equally unpleasant landlord’s wife vows to do all in her power to have them evicted when the lease for the business space is up.
The hopeful proprietors press on and set up wonderful tasting platters of cheese and hors d’oeuvres, as well as wines that they wish to feature. The opening is well-attended but a scene or two erupts. However, nothing prepares Charlotte for the shock of finding her beloved Grandmere with blood covering her hands and her landlord with one of the shop’s special cheese knives in his chest.
It was great fun to find this fromage-filled mystery. Food lovers will get a kick out of the cheese hints and recipes.
As charming as the food was and it’s deft incorporation into the story, the book also had some weaknesses. A primary difficulty was the slew of secondary characters. Granted they made for a colorful backdrop for the main character. The difficulty lay in how each one seemed to have a definitive quirk. This came off as very heavy-handed seasoning for a book that would likely have stood better with a milder approach. In particular, the grandmother who ended up as the prime suspect in the murder was outlandish to the degree of being more of a caricature than a character.
There was a touch of romance running through the book noted more for the frustration than any fruition. The potential was there but kept at lukewarm both in temperature and possibility. This is merely the beginning of the series and can therefore be the explanation of a slow build.
THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE shows the series' potential though this instalment can be said only to satisfy. One suspects that the stories will grow in sophistication in the next instalments. Avery Aames adds a welcomed addition to the cozy with her Cheese Shop Mysteries.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.