Body and Soul Food

Books and Biscuits Mystery #1

By Abby Collette

ISBN 9780593336175

Author’s website:

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


In this page-turning new mystery series, fraternal twins Keaton and Koby will pull double duty when they take down a killer while preparing to open their new bookstore and soul-food café, Books & Biscuits.

When Koby Hill and Keaton Rutledge were orphaned at age two, they were separated, but their unbreakable connection lingered. Year later, they reunite and decide to make up for lost time and capitalize on their shared interests by opening up a well-stocked bookstore and cozy soul-food café in the quaint Pacific Northwest town of Timber Lake. But this new chapter of their lives could end on a cliffhanger after Koby’s foster brother is found murdered.

The murder, which occurred in public between light-rail stops, seems impossible for the police to solve. But as Keaton and Koby know, two heads are always better than one, especially when it comes to mysteries. With just a week to go before the grand opening of their new café, the twins will use their revitalized connection with each other to make sure this is the killer’s final page. (From Goodreads)


I found this to be a solid, exciting first in a new series! As a barely passable cook, I have very little in common with folks like Koby who excel at cooking. As someone who loves to read, even escapes into reading, I did, however, feel a kinship with Keaton. One of her T-shirts says it best for me: “Once Upon a Time There was a Girl who Really Loved Cats and Books”. This cozy invited me in from the first page and held my attention throughout. The main characters are people I would want to hang around with, the setting is charming, and the mystery seems hopeless.

Koby and Keaton were surrendered the day after their second birthday. Koby stayed in the group home in between foster families. Keaton was adopted by wonderful couple. She had no idea that she had a twin until he showed up at her door. Koby had been reminded of her existence by Reef, a friend and foster brother. Six years older than they are, Reef told Koby that a girl had come in with him. Koby began looking for his twin when he was thirteen, as well as searching for their birth mother. A dream began in his heart that he and his twin would one day own a business. After learning to cook at the side of Mama Zola, one of his foster mothers, he wanted to have a soul food café, and that his sister, wherever she might be, would like books as much as he did, and that café would include a bookstore.

Fast forward almost a decade and Koby found Keaton, a recent graduate with a master’s degree, whose adoptive father had just passed away. Within three years, his dream of the soul food café and bookstore are about to be realized at Books & Biscuits. Reef has been family to Keaton for most of his life. They are the closest of friends, and he is frequently at the café to “taste test” the foods. He has been flirting with Keaton a lot lately, and she has begun to like it. He finally got up his courage to invite her out Friday night to hear him play sax at a jazz club, and she was looking forward to it.

Koby and Keaton spent the day before their opening in Seattle. Koby was going to go with Keaton to her little town of Timber Lake to make sure she was home safe, then return to Seattle where he lives. En route, he heard from Reef, who offered to meet Keaton and see her home. Koby was hesitant, a protective brother, while Keaton was happy she would see him. They waited at the platform of the train she would meet Reef on and she boarded upon arrival. Reef didn’t turn to greet her; he fell off the seat. After seeing him, she grabbed the emergency brake pull and screamed. Only then did the other five people on the car figure out something was wrong. She looked up and saw Koby running to get in before the driver locked the doors. It was the beginning of a long night and an even longer week.

Doing the grand opening of Books & Biscuits was hard amidst their grief. It was even more challenging when Koby and Keaton learn they are the primary suspects. Koby has only ever trusted one police officer who has retired. He believes they need to find other suspects. Keaton would rather let Detective Chow do his job, but she is the one who finds suspects and confronts them. I almost laughed at some of her thoughts whenever she flew into panic mode because I understood. Keaton, Koby, Mama Zola, and the changes in Keaton’s relationship with her mom have set an excellent tone for this novel and series.

I didn’t think Reef would be the victim and was so saddened by it. Koby had been stunned to learn some of Reed’s secrets. While none were bad, they were surprising. For a man who had done so much to help others, Koby and Keaton did find a handful of possible suspects. I was surprised at who the killer was, after guessing throughout the novel. The end was satisfactory, and I am looking forward to the next visit to Timber Lake. I highly recommend this impressive start to a new series.