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I bought this book and meant to save it for the weekend, but I started it and couldn't stop reading. It's a good mystery, but I liked the characters even more, especially the central one, Della Carmichael. I related to her problems. Also, her reactions to things that happened in the story seemed real, not "fiction-fake." Briefly: Della runs a cooking school in Santa Monica, California, but she's in debt. When she's hired to be on a cable TV cooking show, she thinks her bad luck has changed. Then somebody dies during her first TV show. Last night I made one of the recipes in the back, "Funeral Salad." Delicious. (Like this book.)
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This is the first book in a new series about Della Carmichael, owner of a Cooking School and the new TV cooking star of the Better Living Channel. Her first live program ends suddenly when the former Cooking Diva of the Better Living Channel dies after taste testing Della's Chocolate Mousse. Della then has to try and prove her innocence and along the way expose some secrets about the others at the Better Living Channel.
I enjoyed Killer Mousse and can't wait for the next book in the series. Did anyone else catch the connection between this book and the first book in this author's last series?
I have to confess that, as much as I love mysteries (especially cozies) I've never been a great fan of the culinary type books. The recipes seem to be so complicated, or not even really essential to the story. I'm a convert now, though, at least to this first of a new series by Melinda Wells.
Her characterizations are absolutely tops! All of the people in this book are so real! And most of them are the type of person you'd like to have for a friend. Della Carmichael, the main cook here, is a down-to-earth woman of 47. WOW! 47!!! She's capable. And she can still walk and talk and make love and do all kinds of things. Compared to Hollywood's fascination with `twinkies' that's truly incredible. She has a delicious sense of self to go along with her wry sense of humor, and these blend excellently well with her abundance of common sense. She's a woman after my own heart.
She's now a widow, and freely admits to a few imperfections, but she's not a quitter, and truly when life handed her lemons, she proceeded to make marvelous tangy lemonade. I've not yet tried any of the recipes in the book, but they read easy, so maybe they'll make easy, too. We'll see.
The premise is a dandy, too, for who among us hasn't hoped to be a TV star, even if only for five minutes? As a cable cooking diva, she shares a studio with a car mechanic, a crafter and a guy who specializes in rescuing and re-creating `stuff'. Seems reasonable to me. They're all just a wee bit loony, but great fun, and eminently believable. So is her dog, Tuffy, and rescued cat, Emma. And there's NDM. Scrumptious!
But in the meantime, I can only hope for the speedy arrival of her next book, with all these marvelous characters we've just met, to see what sort of troubles Ms. Wells can stir up for them. Or they stir up for her. Whichever.
This series is decently written in terms of characters and plot. Della is a relatively likeable character if a bit too much of a milquetoast at times. My problem with this book in particular, and really the series in general (my review includes Killer Mousse, The Proof is in the Pudding, and Della Takes the Cake), is that the writer seems to have the emotional maturity of a 13-year old boy deep in the throws of puberty. On this point I have two main criticisms: 1. For me, reading a mystery novel should not feel like reading a romance novel. My beachreading tastes run towards mayhem and impossible escapes by recently divorced small business owning women from domestic murderers; not groping and fondeling by vigorous oiled studs (see NDP - in all three books). Unfortuantely, in this book there is far too much of the latter. I am sure it is just me,(perhaps my having missed the sexual revolution is the cause) but I am not at all interested in reading about anyone's sexual encounters. I don't want to know about breasts being gently rubbed or a "post-coital glow" which is interrupted by "a slight stirring against her thighs." Nor, do I want to imagine the "release" of anything that is unconnected from getting out of prison (and all of this by page 22 - Della Takes the Cake). Frankly, there are just too many references to "explosions" (that have nothing to do with dynamite) to make any further reading of this series possible for me. 2. The references are not only sexual but oddly juvenile. Consider this excerpt: "Frankly...I got so hot imagining what you and the Sicilian were doing that I jumped John as soon as we got home...John rose to the occassion so to speak." I don't think I have heard anyone refer to sex as "jumping" since I was in the 7th grade. Does anyone talk like this?Read more ›
Della Carmichael owns a small cooking school in Santa Monica, California, and is just beginning a new cable cooking show on the Better Living channel. Della is different from most people she knows. Her late husband, Mack, was a LAPD detective (died two years ago), her mother and sisters are all accountants, her close family friend, John O'Hara, is LAPD and his wife, Shannon, has mental problems... You get the idea. The only friend Della has who could possibly understand her love of the culinary arts is Eileen O'Hara. Eileen is John's daughter and is not only Della's houseguest, but also her cooking school assistant.
Now that Della has a cooking show she is surrounded by many more people, but not all of them are nice. Mimi Bond's cooking show has been canceled and Della's cooking show is the one replacing it. Needless-to-say, Mimi is NOT a fan of Della's. Still, Mimi is the one chosen to be the taster at the end of Della's first show, which goes out live! Mimi ends up dying after taste testing Della's mousse, in front of a national audience.
Detective Emil Hall has Della listed high on his suspect list. John is pulled in to work with Hall and cannot guarantee Della that she will not end up in prison. Phil Logan, head of publicity for the Better Living Channel, has Della spending a week with a crime reporter for the Chronicle named Nicholas D'Marino "NDM", who will (hopefully) help Della solve the crime. A second person soon ends up dead and Della is, once more, the main suspect.
Della must get through several unrehearsed show tapings and solve the two murders quickly - or her next show may be from behind bars.
**** This is the first of the Della Cooks mysteries.Read more ›
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