Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Calamity Cafe



Author:  Gayle Leeson
Series:   A Down South Cafe Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Obsidian Mystery
Published:  June 7, 2016

Description:  Tired of waiting tables at Lou’s Joint, Amy Flowers doesn’t just quit—she offers to buy the place from her bully of a boss, so she can finally open the café of her dreams. Amy can't wait to serve the kind of Southern, down-home treats and dishes that her grandmother always loved to the kooky cast of regulars at the restaurant. She knows her comfort food will be the talk of the sweet, small town of Winter Garden, Virginia.

At first Lou Lou refuses to sell, but when she seems ready to make a deal, she tells Amy to come see her.  Showing up at the eatery ready to negotiate, Amy is shocked to find her former employer murdered. As the prime suspect, Amy will have to clear her name by serving up the real killer—and with Lou Lou’s stack of enemies, that’s a tall order.

My Review

This is the first book in a new series by Gayle Leeson and while I liked it, there was just one aspect of the book that detracted from my overall enjoyment.  The book is well written and has a nice steady pace that moves the story along.  It has a well crafted mystery and wonderful characters.

The characters in this story are well written, full, round characters.  I like Amy Flowers as a main character.  She is determined to follow her dream of opening her own cafe  and is overall very likable.  What really came through in the pages of this story is the friendship between Amy, Jackie and Roger.  It was well done by the author and you could fell their genuine like for each other as the story unfolded.  There is also a little bit of romance brewing for both Jackie and Amy which did not overshadow the mystery.  I also liked Homer and looked forward to who would be his hero each day and why.  Aunt Bess and Amy's mom rounded out the secondary cast well.

The mystery was well plotted.  It unfolded slowly over the course of the book and the identity of the killer was not readily evident, at least to me.  There are several suspects to choose from and plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing.  I was about 3/4 of the way through the book before I figured out the identity of the killer.  What I had the most problem with is Amy's insistence that she had to solve the murder herself because she was a suspect and "her life was on the line."  For me, this part of the story just didn't resonate.  Yes, Amy found the body of Lou Lou and there was one other small piece of circumstantial evidence, but the rest of the story did not support her belief.  Other than after she found the body, Amy was not questioned by the police and Deputy Hall told her that while she was a suspect because she found the body he didn't believe she was the killer.  To make Amy's belief more credible for me, I would have liked the author to provide more evidence and/or clues even if circumstantial that pointed to Amy.

In sum, I thought the story was well written with a steady pace that kept the reader turning page with a nicely crafted mystery and full, round characters.  I just had trouble with Amy's instance that she had to find the killer because her life was on the line.  I liked the book well enough that I will give the second book in the series a try when it is  released.

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