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Monday, September 20, 2010

Killer Mousse - Melinda Wells (Cozy Mystery)



Released February 2008

www.penguin.com

www.dellacooks.com

I do look culinary mysteries. As an avid collector of cookbooks and a book addict, it's always seemed natural to me to blend fiction with recipes. Other genres haven't seem to catch on yet, though I have picked up a few romances with a culinary theme. It remains the culinary mystery that appeases my passion for both reading and cooking.

Killer Mousse is the first entry into Melinda Wells Della Cooks mystery series. In this novel, new TV chef Della Carmichael is finishing up her first live taping of her show. The person chosen to sample her recipes is none other than Mimi Bond, the woman who Della replaced. When Mimi keels over following a spoonful of Della's chocolate mousse, Della becomes an instant celebrity for all the wrong reasons. Not to mention, she prepared the food herself so she's also the prime suspect.

Wanting to clear her name, Della, widow of the late Detective Carmichael, begins her own investigation. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that someone wants to keep Della from unraveling the murder. Worse, the killer seems to be willing to go to any length to keep his/her identity hidden.

There is a lot I enjoyed in Killer Mousse. Starting with the recipes, which all sound great, the instructions are clear and most novice cooks will have no problem putting these entrees, sides and desserts together. The mystery is good, but not exceptional in my eyes. It had a lot going for it. Being an armchair sleuth type, I like to try to solve the mystery before the main character and I couldn't do it this time. I was stumped and while I had a guess, it was wrong. Part of my issue is that there were many characters to keep track of and each had his or her own reasons for being a likely suspect.

The story's good and the romance between Della and the reporter had potential. However, their time seemed so rushed together that I never felt they truly had time to build up any kind of passion before they were jumping into intimacy. I'm not a prude nor have I ever been a widow, but it seems to me that Della would have been far more conscientious about her romantic encounter with a man who first made her very uncomfortable. That aspect of the book could have been omitted and I think I would have liked Della's character more.

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