One Taste Too Many
Sarah Blair Mystery, Book #1
By Debra H. Goldstein
Author Website: debrahgoldstein(.)com
For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch–murder!
Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty-eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired hometown she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily–an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant . . .
Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death–being in the kitchen!
Includes quick and easy recipes! (Goodreads)
This could easily become another of my new favorite series! This is a delightful cozy mystery that includes a gorgeous cat, a protagonist that I can identify with, and a stumper of a murder that is a challenge to solve. The setting is in Alabama, a place I haven’t yet seen but sounds interesting.
Sarah’s twin sister Emily is everything Sarah is not. She is outgoing, funny, and on her way to becoming a famous chef. Emily returned to their hometown of Wheaton, Alabama, to work for her friend, Chef Marcus, at his upscale restaurant, Southwind. In contrast, Sarah doesn’t want to speak in front of crowds, can’t cook anything that doesn’t come ready to be popped into the microwave, and still hasn’t found something she is good at.
Emily was called by Sarah’s ex-husband, Bill, late at night when the Civic Center was being set up for the upcoming Food Expo. Since it is part of her job to oversee the setup for Southwind at the Expo, it is her responsibility to respond to requests. She never did find out what Bill needed that night though, as when she arrived, Bill was dead. It looks as if he had been murdered by something in the rhubarb crisp he was eating. One of the demo dishes Emily is making for the Expo is rhubarb crisp, and she knows two things. First, Bill didn’t like rhubarb, so she wasn’t sure why he was eating it. Second, he wouldn’t eat the kind she makes as she bakes it with nuts, and he is deathly allergic to nuts. All she can do is call 911 and try to perform CPR.
Sarah and her boss and attorney, Harlan, go to the police station where Emily is being questioned. Emily’s time has been committed to Southwind’s exhibit at the Food Expo, and Harlan is able to get her released as there was no evidence for the police to hold her. Emily decides that Sarah, the twin who loved watching Perry Mason when they were children, can work as her “assistant” at the Expo to give her a chance to snoop around. Perhaps between the two of them they can determined who would have really killed Bill.
In the meantime, Jane, a line cook at Southwind and Bill’s girlfriend, brought paperwork to the police showing that Sarah should not have her late mother-in-law’s cat, RahRah. Documents indicate that a trust was set up by Mother Blair providing a huge sum to care for him in the guest home she lived in on Bill’s property. It is the first time Sarah heard about it, as she had helped care for Mother Blair, and when she passed away, Bill gave RahRah to Sarah. Being allergic to cats, he couldn’t keep the Siamese who is now her beloved companion. Of course, there was no mention of a trust, monthly stipend, or place to live.
I like Sarah and Emily, although I felt Emily should have shared secrets she held back from Sarah. I feel that I got to know Sarah well. Most of the other characters were under suspicion at one time or another for the murder and subsequent crimes, so they are mysteries until each is cleared from suspicion.
The murder and other crimes were quite challenging! Suspects come and go as various evidence, including land dealings and financial challenges are revealed. Sarah’s ex is definitely a man of secrets. I was pulled into the novel at the beginning, and it was hard to put down until the very last page. Plot twists kept me on my toes, as even the good guys started to look like bad guys. The real bad guy, however, was a complete surprise, not someone I suspected for even a second! The resolution was satisfying with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend One Taste Too Many to those who enjoy cozy mysteries crafted with excellence, very likable protagonists, and cats.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*