Title: Murder at Mile Marker 18
Series: A Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper
By: Denise Jaden
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
If anyone had told Mallory Beck she would become Honeysuckle Grove’s next unschooled detective, she would have thought they were ten noodles short of a lasagna. Her late husband had been the mystery novelist with a penchant for the suspicious. She was born for the crock pot, not the magnifying glass, and yet here she is elbow deep in fettuccine, cat treats, and teenagers with an attitude, the combination of which lands her smack-dab in the middle of a murder investigation.
Maybe she should have thought twice about delivering a casserole to a grieving family. Maybe she should have avoided the ever-changing green eyes of her seventh-grade crush—now the most heart-stopping cop in town. Maybe she should have stopped listening to the insightful mewls of her cat, Hunch, who most likely wants her to be the town’s next murder victim.
Whatever the case, Mallory Beck got herself into this investigation, and she has a distraught teenage girl counting on her to deliver the truth. (Goodreads)
I begin my exploration of author Denise Jaden with book one, Murder at Mile Marker 18, of the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper series. My only comment (okay, probably not…) is wow…wish I had discovered the writing of Denise Jaden earlier. On the other hand, I am happy because I see a binge read of this author happening over the next couple of weeks or months ☺.
This series begins with Mallory Beck just eight months after becoming a widow to well known mystery writer Cooper Beck. Mallory is trying to resume some semblance of order by attending church, hoping to go unnoticed. She did not need nor want any more of the head title of pity that she has been getting since Cooper’s passing. At the end of the service Pastor Jeff let the congregation know that there had been a recent death in the congregation – Dan Montrose had met his death in an unfortunate accident. Much to Mallory’s surprise, she volunteered to take a casserole to the Montrose home. Given that Mallory has a culinary degree – she decides to make a casserole from scratch as opposed to taking a store bought casserole over to the Montrose home. You could tell from Mallory’s process (making many types of sauces, etc. to determine what type of casserole to make) that this endeavour was cathartic for her own process of learning to live again without her husband. With casserole in hand, Mallory heads off to the Montrose family home only to deliver the food while a velatorio (wake) was happening. Talk about bad timing. Mallory takes a plate of her cheesy casserole to each of the two Montrose children (Danny Seth Montrose and Amber Montrose). And so the connection between Mallory and Amber begins.
One thing leads to another and now Mallory is delving into the death of Mr. Montrose as it appears that it may not have been an accident. How did that happen? My suggestion is start reading Murder at Mile Marker 18 and discover this for yourself!
I really enjoyed the budding/building relationship between Mallory and Amber as they try and figure out what happened to Dan Montrose. I loved how Mallory nurtured Amber’s interest in cooking. They found comfort in each others company. Teaching Amber some culinary skills appeared to be therapeutic for Mallory and seemed to remind her of her love of cooking. I loved the synergy between the two of them – and their dogged determination to get at the truth!
While Mallory is not of the calibre of sleuth as found in her deceased husbands’ books, she is tenacious and that carried her, and Amber, a long was towards finding the truth. Both Mallory and Amber sift through the clues and potential list of suspects in a methodical manner and soon, the plot thickens and then eventually gets resolved, as is usual.
Let’s not forget the (re) introduction of the cop, Xander (Alex) Martinez to Mallory. They were friendly back when they were in grade seven and Mallory briefly lived in Honeysuckle Grove. I will most definitely look forward to how this relationship progresses in books to come! I suspect slowly as from Mallory’s character development thus far, I do not see her moving on just yet… but time does march on and I suspect so shall Mallory.
A character one must not forget is the ever present Hunch, Connor’s cat. This subplot caught and held my attention (being a cat lover and all) as it was not only interesting but brought a delightful sense of fun to the story.
It was not overly difficult to figure out whodunit, but the progression to that conclusion was a well crafted book which held my interest right until the end. So much so, that I went right out and started on book two of the series, Murder at the Church Picnic. If you enjoy cozy mysteries with a bit of culinary delight thrown in, I suggest you pick up this enjoyable first book, Murder at Mile Marker 18, in the Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Caper Series. I must say – I love it when I discover a truly entertaining Canadian author ☺.