Saturday, April 1, 2017

Just Jennifer

Death at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon

This first in a new mystery series finds former private school head and recently widowed Maggie Detweiler and her friend Hope Babbin on their way to the Oquossoc Mountain in for a weeklong cooking class in Bergen, Maine, where Hope’s son Buster, a former student of Maggie’s is the deputy sheriff.  The Inn is lovely, as are the owner and his staff, but one particular guest, Alex Antippas, is so odious his mere presence threatens to ruin the week for everyone.  While death is always a shock, no one is surprised when it is learned Alex was murdered in his room.  The women are surprised to learn the local police are focused on the Inn’s recently fired receptionist Cherry Weaver as their suspect.  Maggie and Hope disagree and push Buster into investigating further, helping it along with their own theories and observations.  While the storyline has a lot of potential, the characters feel a little stiff and very similar to one another at times and there are a few too many coincidences and loose ends left, loose ends that are not likely to be tied up in a future entry to the series.  An intriguing set up at the end provides the clues to Maggie and Hope’s next adventure and Gutcheon’s prose is lovely as she describes Maine in the early autumn. Readers are likely to be curious enough to return to the next installment.  One word of caution:  while the book by all appearances is a traditional cozy, a genre that generally lacks strong language, the f-word is used, while judiciously and in-character, several times by the most unpleasant Mr. Antipass.  

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