Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On the Chopping Block

Author:  Jenny Kales
Series:  A Callie's Kitchen Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  May 2016
Format:  ebook

Description:  Building a small business has been murder, but Callie Costas didn’t expect to be confronted with an actual body. The 36-year-old Greek-American proprietor of “Callie's Kitchen,” a meals-from-scratch business in an idyllic small town, has been busy creating a post-divorce life for herself, her young daughter and her Yorkie, Koukla. After a lot of hard work (including staving off her father’s continual advice), she’s got the locals and tourists clamoring for her delicious Mediterranean dishes and Midwest comfort food classics. Recently, she’s started a budding romance with a fellow foodie, the wealthy owner and chef of Crystal Bay’s most popular bistro. 

However, success is as fleeting as one of Wisconsin’s glorious autumn days. As local businesses begin to shut down due to a slow economy, Callie is struggling not to become another statistic. A contest with a hefty cash prize seems like the perfect chance to fix her financial woes, until a shocking murder threatens not only her livelihood – but her life. 

When she’s targeted as a prime suspect by an attractive expat British detective, Callie’s situation becomes more delicate than her Greek egg-lemon soup. She’s got to find the killer and fast if she wants to protect her daughter, save her business and stay alive. 

My Review

This book has been on my radar for a couple of weeks and when I was offered the chance by the author to read and review the story I quickly agreed.  This debut cozy mystery by author Jenny Kales is simply charming.  I found this to be a very enjoyable first in a new series and will be back for more.

To begin with, the story is filled with a wonderful, hearty and colorful Midwestern Greek-American family.  Callie, the protagonist, is very likeable.  She is definitely someone the reader can relate to - a single mom trying to raise her child and run a business.  She doesn't expect that she is going to have to add amateur sleuth to that title but when the man she is dating is killed and she becomes a suspect, she has to solve the murder to save herself and her business.  The cast of supporting characters include her grandmother Viv, who is a vibrant 80 something, and Callie's gruff but caring father George.  With George's character I think the author drew on her own family experience and it comes shining through.  

The story itself is well written and the mystery starts with a bang right at the opening pages. I thought the book had a good pace and the story unfolded nicely until a very satisfying ending.  Now, if you have read my reviews you know I am not "Miss Marple" when it comes to solving the mysteries in these types of books.  However, in this story the author has woven plenty of clues throughout and I got overly confident.  I was sure that about 2/3rds of the way through the books I figured out the identity of the killer.  Now, it didn't take away my enjoyment of the story and I wanted to see how Callie went about figuring out the killer's identity.  Well, of course you all know how this ends, I couldn't have been more wrong.  Ms. Kales did a fantastic job of weaving in twist and turns to go along with the clues and enough misdirection that I fell for it.  I was surprised at the identity of the killer (I didn't suspect this person at all) and thought the book ended very well.

This is a strong debut cozy mystery for Ms. Kales that is well written, full of wonderful characters, a good pace, strong plot and a terrific mystery.  As an added bonus, there are some delicious sounding recipes included at the end of the story.  I will be back to see what Callie is up to in future installments as this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence my opinion and the thoughts expressed are my own.


  1. Woops!Commented using an old account! I wanted to say thank you for the wonderful review. I'm so glad you enjoyed On the Chopping Block and I hope your readers do, too. Visit my author website at

  2. Peggy, I just finished reading this and writing my review. I thought it was really good too.