Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jenn's Review: Lemon Tart

Summary: Award-winning author Josi S. Kilpack introduces a new series of culinary cozies that is sure to tantalize mystery lovers. In this debut volume, cooking aficionado turned amateur detective Sadie Hoffmiller tries to solve the murder of her beautiful young neighbor a single mother who was mysteriously lured from her home while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie's search is the woman's missing two year-old child. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects including her! For an added treat, original mouth-watering recipes for Sadie's Lemon Tart, Homemade Alfredo Sauce, Carrot Cookies, Brownies, and Granny's Gingerbread Bundt Cake are sprinkled throughout the book.

Review: With my love of food-lit and mystery novels Lemon Tart seemed like an ideal read... and it is truly the best of both worlds. It was a quick, light read full of surprises and delicious recipes.

This is the first book I've read in a long time where the voice of the story is not that of the law enforcement or the criminologists who are doing the lead investigating, but that of a friend and neighbor looking in from the outside. At first, that took a little adjusting to, but once I switched mind frames, it was very refreshing. Sadie is the town busybody that knows everyone... and that everyone knows. So when a neighbor is murdered and a toddler goes missing, what can she do but investigate? Sadie knows her neighbor better than anyone else in her cul-de-sac, but how much do any of us really know our neighbors?

Sadie takes food and cooking seriously; thank you's, apologies, and bribes, all come with a yummy homemade treat (for which Ms. Kilpack graciously supplies the recipes at the ends of chapters). She also has a knack for nosing into trouble. Sure, many of Sadie's problems and fears would be alleviated if she told the police all that she knows, but with her thirst to save the murdered women's reputation, the discoveries she's making about her friends and family, and a neophyte detective who suspects her of murder, Sadie has a hard time not withholding evidence.

Ms. Kilpack's character's are well developed and her plot has plenty of layers. For me, the only sticking point in the plot was the lack of FBI involvement in the case of the missing toddler. This nagged me to the point where I actually looked up the protocol. Apparently it is suggested that the FBI be notified, but it is up to the discretion of law enforcement working the case. As we are only seeing the investigation from Sadie's point of view, I suppose the FBI may have been involved, but I would think that if they were involved, they would have interviewed Sadie. I also would have tossed Sadie into jail for interfering with an investigation long before the lead detective is fed up with her, but then again, he does seem to have a soft spot for her.

While I love a good heavy crime novel, this was a nice light mystery with some great food-lit infusion ~ a perfect summer read. If you are a fan of comfort food and delicious intrigue, this book is for you. I can't wait to dive into the rest of the series, try some of the scrumptious recipes, and perhaps check out some other titles from Ms. Kilpack.

Final Take 3.5/5


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