Saturday, 30 November 2019

Keep Calm and Kill the Chef by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Keep Calm and Kill the Chef by Livia Day is the third book in the Café La Femme series of cosy culinary crime novels. Chronologically, it follows on from A Trifle Dead and Drowned Vanilla, but in practice you don’t have to have read the earlier books to follow this one.

Scones, tea, and a stabbing…

When Tabitha Darling entered Cafe La Femme in a reality TV show hosted by an infamous “bad boy” Chef, she never expected to be a suspect in his murder.

When Xanthippe Carides quit working in a cafe to become a private detective, she never expected one of her first cases would be keeping Tabitha out of jail…

These two friends have a mystery to solve, and only one of them is telling the whole truth.

Keep Calm and Kill the Chef is told from two points of view and two timelines: we get Tabitha's point of view from before the murder and Xanthippe's from after the murder. Since Tabitha is a potential suspect in the eyes of some of the police (though otherwise a sympathetic character), and Xanthippe is investigating the murder, this sets up an interesting dynamic, especially since they're best friends. I also enjoyed the way in which this setup conveyed information to the reader — in pieces from both ends of the timeline.

Because the plot of this book is centred around a reality TV cooking competition show, there are more descriptions of ridiculous food (for various definitions of ridiculous) than the previous books in the series, and fewer descriptions of more realistic foods. This worked better for me personally since I have a lot of food problems and descriptions of delicious desserts I can't eat were less fun for me than descriptions of ridiculous desserts that most people won't get the opportunity to eat. What kind of ridiculous? Well let's just say the cover is only the half of it.

I don't usually read crime or mystery books, but I like this series for its light-heartedness (most of the time) and the geekiness of the characters. If you enjoy cosy crime books, particularly those set in locations less frequently seen in fiction (Hobart, in this case) and especially if you liked the earlier books in the series, I highly recommend Keep Calm and Kill the Chef.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: September 2019, Twelfth Planet Press
Series: Cafe La Femme, book 3 of 3 (so far...)
Format read: ePub
Source: Bought as a Kickstarter add-on
Disclaimer: The author is a friend, but I have endeavoured to write an impartial review

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