Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle
Chef Maurice Culinary Mystery, Book #1
By J.A. Lang
Author’s Website: http://www.jalang.net
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
“They say one should never trust a thin chef. By this measure, Chef Maurice was very trustworthy indeed.”
It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion.
Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery—he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village.
Soon, Chef Maurice is up to his nose in some seriously rotten business—complete with threatening notes, a pignapping, and an extremely well-catered stake-out.
Can he solve Ollie’s murder before his home-made investigation brings the killer out for second helpings?
J.A. Lang has successfully combined the best of two worlds – cozy mystery and British comedy. As a fan of both, I found this first book in the series to be great fun. Chef Maurice is a French chef living in the Cotswolds, the proprietor of Le Cochon Rouge which is the only restaurant in the small village Beakley. His mushroom supplier Ollie is late with his weekly delivery, and he is nowhere to be found, so Chef takes it upon himself to break into Ollie’s house to look for his share of the mushrooms. To his great surprise, he finds very expensive truffles and liberates it for his own use. He is so excited by the possibility of locally grown truffles that he adopts a micropig named Hamilton to hunt for the delicacies, and he elicits his restaurant critic long suffering friend Arthur to help him. They stumble across Ollie’s body in a culvert, and Chef decides he has a vested interest in helping the police uncover Ollie’s murderer. Chef’s efforts do not endear him with the local constabulary, but he presses on dragging Arthur along with him. As they trace Ollie’s steps and make inquiries, things get a little too close to home when Hamilton is pignapped. They eventually peel back layers like those of an onion to get to the bottom of Ollie’s activities and demise.
Chef Maurice is hilarious, but it is actually Arthur who I found most endearing. Well, truthfully, Hamilton the pig is my favorite character. The awkward restaurant employees, bumbling police, a nosy neighbor, and other village folk, who may or may not be suspects, add delightful color to the story. Chef Maurice is single minded in his hunt for truffles and consumed by his love of food. He probably finds way more pleasure in his whole adventure than he should. “Chef Maurice nodded affably. He was enjoying himself immensely. He had truffles to find, a new four-legged friend to train, and now a murder case to solve.”
Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle is fluffy, easy reading and quite entertaining. If you enjoy British wit and a fun mystery, I recommend you pick up a copy today.