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On the Chopping Block (A Callie's Kitchen Cozy Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition
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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.
As with all self published books I think that there is a certain level of is this edited and formatted correctly because we have all seen the doozy ones. Let me tell you this Jenny Kales is a fantastic author and everything looks amazing. This book was a breath of fresh air in the cozy scene. Not only was I in love with all of the characters at the beginning but this book starts with the murder and you are already sympathetic to the murdered victim. Jenny Kales thanks her cover artist at the end and if you look at the covers of her three books they are stunning and even look better then some of the covers coming out now. Also her printed copies are very affordable and look equally as gorgeous. I might just have to invest in them. I am so excited to continue this series and see what else Callie is capable of!
Finding a dead body is traumatic, let alone finding a dead body of someone with whom you are involved. Matters get worse as a suspect turning her world upside down. Detective Sands keeps the pressure on, and with the Kitchen suffering from the news reports connecting Callie to the murder, she decides to start her own covert investigation. Discovering several ‘wrenches’ proves dangerous, and beyond the prospect of being arrested, Callie herself could be in real danger.
Jenny Kales has written a delicious mystery everyone will enjoy. Book 1 is clever allowing the reader to follow along the investigations and ponder their own possible solution…a few “Oh, No-s!” popped up making the final solution entertaining. The characters were realistic that they could be family (over-protective fathers, worrisome exes, supportive grandmothers), friends (helpful co-workers, eager colleagues, a BFF that is an Ethel to your Lucy), or neighbors (an overzealous detective, shopkeepers, busy-body patrons). Descriptions made me hungry from the fragrant spices permeating Callie’s Kitchen to cringing with Callie’s panic. Easy to follow recipes of the delicious Greek delicacies prominent in Callie’s Kitchen were provided. My book club, family brunch, date-night will be very special with these recipes. I was completely entertained with the murder mystery, the characters, the recipes, and have become a big-time Jenny Kales fan!