5 stars

The Big Chili

Undercover Dish #1

Author: Julia Buckley

ISBN13: 9780425275900

Author website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt



First in a delicious new mystery series filled with casseroles, confidences, and killers…

Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble…

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide…


The Big Chili is a feast of awesomeness!! This is the first in a new cozy mystery series and I cannot wait for more. Undercover Dish Mystery series is already one of my favorites.  The main character Lilah Drake has an “undercover” side job preparing cover dishes for the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois. She bakes them and they take the credit. With secret hand-offs reminiscent of drug deals, Lilah provides meals for folks who either cannot cook or just do not have the time to do so. When one of her famous dishes is used to kill mean Alice Dixon at the church Bingo, Lilah worries not only that a murderer is in their midst, but that her little business may have also bit the dust.

Lilah Drake is a fantastic main character. People love her and her friendship and so do I! Her love for her wonderful Labrador Mick sold me on her even before her other character traits were revealed. Her family is amazing, but not perfect. Lilah is who I want to be when I grow younger. Julia Buckley has not just written a fun, entertaining and fabulous cozy, but she has introduced a truly stellar main character in Lilah.  I love her little quirks too. Love interest Detective Inspector Jacob (Jay) Parker is handsome and wonderful with a bit of boyish charm and some issues they both share including a need for honesty.

The cast of characters in The Big Chili is also full of awesomeness. From the three sisters Grandy, including Pet who is famous for her (Lilah’s) chili are oddly intriguing and amusing, to Tammy who is the fiancée of Hank Dixon (ex-husband of the deceased), who seems at first to be a shallow money chaser only to prove to be so much more. Lilah’s family, her landlords, friend Jenny and Henry the knight, they are all superbly written and well developed and I love them.

There is so much good to say about The Big Chili and not enough space or time. The most important thing though is – It is awesome and you need to read it!! The mystery/murders were intriguing, suspenseful and I never even had a clue who the real killer was. That said Julia Buckley laid out very subtle clues so it did not just come out of left field. In the vein of Agatha Christie, but with hipper and up to date characters, she has written one heck of a fabulous cozy. I cannot wait to read the next and the next and then next and so on in this series. I recommend it to everyone and anyone that hungers for a substantial helping of dare I say it again, AWESOMENESS. Ok and be prepared to join Lilah in singing songs in your head. I am still singing the Beatles “Blackbirds” as I write this.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*