Bibliophile reviews Prepared for Murder by Cecile Lamalle

Series detective: Charles "Charly" Poisson, master chef
No. in series: 3
Year of publication: 2001
Type of mystery: Cozy: murder, fraud, money laundering, foodie
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: USA, contemporary
Some themes:

I was initially going to include this book in the 52 mystery authors challenge, but although it is categorised as a mystery, I would rather call it a comic crime story, so insubstantial is the mystery element in it, which is why I am reviewing it as a regular non-challenge read. The murder mystery is really only a sub-plot to a crime story that is told quite openly from all points of view: criminals, police and bystanders. Most of the crime – and there is lots of it – is in no way mysterious to the reader and only to a few of the characters.

Story: Charly Poisson is gathering new nettles in springtime when his dog finds a decomposing body in a pond on his land. It turns out to be that of a rather unpleasant small-time criminal. Charly has been involved in murder investigations before and promises himself to keep out of this one, but can not but wonder if the man's last employers, two obvious gangsters, had something to do with it. Those two have opened a factory that turns out ready-made and highly suspicious frozen seafood dishes for the restaurant trade, with a moneylaundering operation on the side. It worries Charly that his delusional former parther in the restaurant business has invested in the company. Then there is the unstable and even more delusional landscape gardener Charly has hired to plan his front yard and who may turn out to be the biggest problem of all.

Review: I have often wondered about the recipes included in foodie mysteries like this one, and while I have been warned against the recipes in another foodie mystery writer's books (who shall remain unnamed), I think I would be quite safe in trying the ones in this book, as the author is an actual chef.
In addition to offering mouth-watering recipes and descriptions of food preparation and dining, the book is entertaining and funny, and the twist ending will not be to the liking of a reader who expects mysteries to adhere to Van Dine's rules.

Rating: A funny and delicious boullaibaise of a comedy. 3 stars.


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