Alaskan Diner Mystery #3
By Elizabeth Logan
Author’s Website: minichino.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
When a local prize-winning farmer is murdered at the state fair, Charlie Cook gets called in to help investigate, but she’s shocked to learn the victim is a friend in this latest installment in the Alaskan Diner Mysteries.
Charlie Cooke loves many things, like the Bear Claw Diner, the heated steering wheel of her car, and her orange tabby cat Eggs Benedict. Something she has never loved is the state fair. So when her best friend Annie Jensen begs her for a fair day, she’s reluctant. But Annie isn’t the only one who wants her to spend a day among farm animals and deep fried food. A vendor has been murdered, and Trooper Graham needs his favorite part-time sleuth to dig up the truth, and Charlie is happy to oblige.
The case grows personal when Charlie learns the victim is Kelly Carson, whom she and Annie were friends with in high school. If Charlie wants to find justice for Kelly, she and Annie will have to work together to weed out the killer. (Goodreads)
Murphy’s Slaw is the third book in the Alaskan Diner Mystery. While this is the third book in the series, this is the first book I have read by this author – regardless of the name she is writing under (aka Camille Minichino and the pseudonyms of: Elizabeth Logan, Jean Flowers, Ada Madison and Margaret Grace). I found the story enjoyable and it flowed very well.
The book starts off with Charlie finally agreeing to her best friend’s request to visit the state fair (a place that Charlie does not enjoy nor even want to go to!). But before they get a chance to leave, Alaska State Trooper Cody Graham comes to Charlie’s home and asks Charlie (Charlotte) to gather her “sleuthing” posse (unofficial deputies) and go to the state fair to investigate the murder of a local woman down in Palmer, Alaska – the town where the state fair is being held. So Charlie, Chris and Annie (Charlie’s best friend from childhood) head to the fairgrounds to investigate the death of Kelly A Carson. Turns out Kelly was a school mate of Charlie’s so this murder is hitting Charlie very hard.
I found the organization proclivities of Charlie amusing (keeping an “agenda” for nightly dinner meetings of the posse (plus Trooper Graham) to discuss the progress made with their sleuthing and keeping track of assigned tasks.
As there frequently is with cozy mysteries, there were a number of potential “murderers”, all with viable reasons for wanting Kelly dead. The posse work through the list systematically and as they do, more red herrings seem to abound and confuse them (and potentially the reader). But they all work hard and in the end – the mystery of who murdered Kelly is solved (as it is in cozy mysteriesJ). There were also some additional storylines (like Annie and Charlie have a minor falling out or the introduction of a new state trooper) that added a different dimension to the story so that the reader could get to know the town and its people. I really enjoyed how Charlie treated her staff!
One item that was a bit confusing, and possibly reading the first and/or second book in the series might have helped (or a bit more back story in this particular tale) is the development to date of the main protagonist (Charlie) and her relationship with newspaper man Chris Doucette.
And it was never explained, but I got the feeling that Benny, an orange tabby, was Charlie’s therapy cat (or so it appeared to me). Charlie was watching him on her “BennieCam” when away from the house and the story spent an inordinate amount of time with Charlie worrying about and spending time with her cat, in my opinion – so much so that I felt it detracted a bit from the story for me.
All in all, a satisfying cozy mystery that kept me guessing for quite a while, though I must admit I did figure out “whodunit” about ¾ of the way through the book. The writing was good and the methodical flow of the story was nice. I also enjoyed getting to know some peripheral characters (like Charlie’s mom).
If you like cozy mysteries with interesting and quirky characters (and a cool location – Alaska), then I suggest picking up Murphy’s Slaw.