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On the Chopping Block (A Callie's Kitchen Cozy Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition
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"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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Callie Costas is a divorced mother struggling to keep her Mediterranean inspired restaurant, Callie's Kitchen, afloat in a town filled with lots of competition. When Drew Staven, the chef she's been casually dating, meets with unexpected foul play, Callie is the number one suspect on Detective Sands list. Was the murder a random act of violence or a crime of passion? Callie is a strong leading lady with everyday struggles readers can easily relate to. Her family is lovable and supportive, and her best friend, Samantha, smart and witty. Callie's little Yorkie, Koukla, is precious and very protective.
Jenny Kales slips smoothly into the cozy genre with a well prepared and tasty plot, providing multiple suspects with reasons why they could be back-stabbers. The story is absorbing, building to an ending spread thick and hearty with surprises as all the answers are revealed.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
As soon as I saw this book was set in Wisconsin I added it to my reading list. I also love watching the show Chopped in all its forms on the Food Network, so knowing a Chopped type competition was a catalyst in this story didn’t hurt either. I wish the actual contest had been part of the story.
Callie Costas was raised by her father and was expected to take over his restaurant when he retired, but she decided to venture out on her own and open “Callie’s Kitchen”. Her business was doing o.k. but if she had won the local Chopped Challenge she would have been able to add more staff and upgrade a few things. Her divorce was amicable for the most part, and her daughter is growing up fast. She also has a little Yorkie to snuggle with, but maybe it was time to start dating and find a man to snuggle up with. Enter Drew, another restaurant owner, and winner of the Chopped contest. They finally have time for a real date – at his house – with him cooking her dinner – to celebrate his win. She never thought the night would be ruined by a murder and her being in a detective’s sights as a prime suspect. Before anyone else gets CHOPPED, including herself, she is going to start her own search for the killer.
This was a fun read for me on so many levels. My parents used to run a restaurant much like Callie’s and the first thing I noticed was that girl needs more staff, especially if she is going to leave so much on her “errands”. Max is a great worker but they are going to burn themselves out quickly. The food they make, especially the little coffee cakes, almost had me drooling all over my Kindle.
The characters were all very realistic. Even Detective Sands with his yummy British accent. Callie is surrounded by people that love her and want her to succeed even as her business dwindles because she is suspected of murder. I really like that she is a woman my age and following her dreams. All of the characters are very well developed and engaging but I know there is so much more to tell. I want to get to know them better.
Wisconsin is beautiful in the fall and fictional Crystal Bay, said to somewhere in the Lake Geneva area, is wonderfully portrayed. The leaves changing their color, the weather getting cooler, a time that is already getting to close to happening in real life here this year. I am a summer girl at heart.
The mystery went in a whole different direction that I had not expected and when I saw where it was headed I thought I had it pinned down to one or two individuals. It all came together for me before it did for Callie, but that big climatic scene when she figured it out had me on the edge of my seat. After that story ended by putting a huge smile on my face.
This series is off to an excellent start. While I hate to see the crime rate of Crystal Bay rise, I can’t wait to return there for another visit soon.
She came in second in the cooking competition in the sponsored by the Crystal Bay small business owners, first went to Drew, the man she's quietly been dating.
When she finds his body, of course she is the main suspect.
As her business starts to fail, Callie decides to investigate in hopes of clearing her name.
The twists had me surprised by the killer. I just knew it was someone else. Nice to be wrong and surprised.
This book held my interest to the point that I hated to do anything but read.
The characters are well written and given a good depth without getting confusing in their relationship to the victim or each other.
I did like how the description of the town and surrounding area was handled. Again enough information to give me a clear picture of the area without going into unnecessary details.
The recipes at the end are all featured in the book and I can't wait to try them.