Mousse and Murder
Alaskan Diner Mystery, Book #1
By Elizabeth Logan
Author Website: minichino(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
A young chef might bite off more than she can chew when she returns to her Alaskan hometown to take over her parents’ diner in this charming first installment in a new cozy mystery series set in an Alaskan tourist town.
When Chef Charlie Cooke is offered the chance to leave San Francisco and return home to Elkview, Alaska, to take over her mother’s diner, she doesn’t even consider saying no. After all–her love life has recently become a Love Life Crumble, and a chance to reconnect with her roots may be just what she needs.
Determined to bring fresh life and flavors to the Bear Claw Diner, Charlie starts planning changes to the menu, which has grown stale over the years. But her plans are fried when her head cook Oliver turns up dead after a bitter and public fight over Charlie’s ideas–leaving Charlie as the only suspect in the case.
With her career, freedom, and life all on thin ice, Charlie must find out who the real killer is, before it’s too late. (Goodreads)
With Mousse and Murder, the first book in the Alaskan Diner mystery series, author Logan lays a nice foundation for future (mis)adventures featuring chef turned diner owner Charlie Cooke with lots of food references, a quirky location, and likable characters.
Charlie (Charlotte) Cooke returns to her hometown of Elkview, Alaska, to take over the everyday operation of her family’s diner. After a heated exchange with her head chef Oliver, which he punctuates by storming out of the diner, Oliver is soon found shot to death. Based on their last encounter, Charlie is at the top of the suspect list, but State Trooper Cody “Trooper” Graham really does not believe she committed the crime and soon deputizes Charlie and local reporter Chris to assist in investigating the murder.
I cannot recall reading any cozy mystery set in Alaska prior to Mousse and Murder, and the setting was the deciding factor for me choosing to read this series premier. There are lots of references to the cold weather and moose dishes, but in the end the Bear Claw Diner could have been located in any small town. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I just expected more. Since Elkview is a major tourist spot for hikers, there should be plenty of fodder for future crimes for Charlie to investigate.
Charlie and the supporting characters are likable but not deeply developed making them rather two dimensional. There is a great deal of room for them to grow and become memorable. Charlie’s relationship with her cat Benny is the highlight of the book. There is also a bit of flirting between Charlie and Chris, which is nice, but her assumptions at times feel juvenile. I do enjoy Charlie’s mother and Trooper and would not mind getting to know them better.
Readers have no time with Oliver at all, and he is as mysterious in death as he was in life so the whole story is Charlie learning about his secrets to solve the mystery of his death. The secret that leads to his death does not make him the most endearing of victims and not getting to know him before his death, in addition to the book’s rather slow pace, led me to be less invested in the story. I was quick to identify the killer but did not know their motive until much later. Mousse and Murder seems like it is written by a first time author; I was surprised to see that she is a seasoned author who writes under several nom de plumes.
The Alaskan Diner Series has potential, but I am not sure that I will give future mysteries a chance.