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By Gayle Leeson
A Down South Café Mystery, Book 1
A Down South Café Mystery, Book 1
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery/Female Sleuth
Length: 304 Pages
About the book:
First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.
Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition…
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.
Includes delicious Southern recipes
Dear Ms. Leeson …..you had me at cozy mystery including delicious Southern recipes. For those who know me, it’s no secret that I am both a bibliophile and a foodie, there is nothing I love more than sitting down with my kindle and gnoshing on a snack or meal, so when given the opportunity to read The Calamity Café, it was a no brainer. The first book in a new cozy mystery series is full of colorful characters, delicious food, a solid mystery and a light touch of romance. If you like cozy mysteries, especially those set in a small town in the South, then this is the book for you.
Ms. Leeson does a great job introducing her primary character, Amy Flowers, a young woman trained to be a chef, who had come home to Winter Garden, Virginia to take care of her nana (grandmother) and has been waitressing at a local diner called Lou’s Joint. Owned by Lou-Lou, a bully, who smokes while she cooks, Lou’s joint is just the kind of restaurant that needs new ownership and when she inherits a sizable amount of money from her grandmother, Amy tries to buy it. Only Lou-Lou refuses to sell, at least until her son, talks her into it. When Amy arrives at the restaurant later that night to go over the sale and terms, she discovers Lou-Lou’s dead body and finds herself on the suspect list. I really liked Amy; she’s smart, funny and a generally nice person. I enjoyed watching her character develop and watching her develop her detective skills.
The secondary characters are also colorful and well developed. I enjoyed getting to know Jackie, her cousin and best friend, who also works as a waitress at Lou’s Joint and Sarah, another close friend who works for the towns only attorney. We meet Roger, her oldest male friend, who also happens to be the contractor Amy hires to redesign and refurbish Lou’s joint after she purchases it from Lou-Lou’s only son Phil and renames it The Down South Cafe The list of possible suspects is more than a handful, apparently Lou-Lou never met a person she couldn’t offend, and it was fun watching Amy go through the list. The local sheriff’s office is investigating the case but the deputy, Ryan, doesn’t seem to mind letting Amy gather clues, which she then turns over to him. I found that a very interesting dynamic and different from most cozies where the police are pretty stringent about people staying out of their way.
Ms. Leeson’s voice as an author is clear, easy to follow and enjoyable, something you would expect from an established writer. The story’s pace is good and there are plenty of twists and turns, especially when it comes to the multiple suspects and Lou-Lou’s family’s past, which keeps things interesting. There was no real graphic violence, though there is a bit of suspense near the end. Overall this is a very well written cozy and a great beginning for a new series.
Will Amy discover who killed Lou-Lou and why? Will Amy’s remodel and renaming of Lou’s Joint work out? And will the developing romances between Jackie and Roger, and Amy and Deputy Ryan work out in the future? You’ll have to read The Calamity Café to find out, I enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next installment.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Crowns
About The Author:
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series. I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!
Webpage – http://www.gayleleeson.com
Gayle Trent Webpage – http://www.gayletrent.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/GayleTrent