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Dim Sum, Dead Some: An Un-Cozy Un-Culinary Josie Tucker Mystery (Josie Tucker Mysteries Book 2) Kindle Edition
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That's more than a little challenging for Josie, who knows next to nothing about computers and even has a hard time understanding all the functions her cell phone is capable of, but she's agreed to do a little discreet snooping for two reasons.
First: Greta, a blue-blooded if apparently cold-hearted woman, is footing the bill and they have an "arrangement."
Second: Josie's BFF Susan is also going to the City by the Bay to meet with her online boyfriend, James Yu.
Things go wrong almost from the time the two women land in San Francisco. They discover, for example, that James lives in a tiny apartment accessible by a none-too-safe, seemingly makeshift and very wobbly fire escape that gives Josie the willies every time she uses it. On top of that he turns out to be a self-involved nerd with no taste whatsoever when it comes to interior decoration and, lastly, his business partner who is supposed to meet them for breakfast has gone AWOL.
Oh, and while out wandering around Josie and her not-so-stable stomach somehow find themselves face-to-face with the famous Ghirardelli ice-cream-and-chocolate shop, which is not a good place to be for someone with weak impulse control and what is probably lactose intolerance.
Kaplan's second installment in the Josie Tucker mystery series is every bit as much fun as her first book and is, I think, even stronger in terms of its plot and characters. That is especially true when she's writing about Josie, who is naturally cranky, deeply in love with her longtime friend Drew, devoted to Susan and someone who clearly knows a helluva lot about food. Kaplan has imbued her heroine with just enough snarkiness to make the stew that is Josie Tucker palatable without making her annoying and she takes the time to round out the secondary characters in 'Dim Sum, Dead Some' with skill.
She also gives the attention they deserve to the places Josie finds herself in: From an industrial strength dim sum restaurant to a burlesque club's surprisingly well-run kitchen.
'Dim Sum, Dead Some' also gives readers a deeper look into Josie's past, develops her relationship with Drew more fully and contains some neat plot twists that add a little extra spice to the narrative.
Kaplan is a clever writer with a nicely balanced sense of humor and a good feel for the pace of a novel. 'Dim Sum, Dead Some' moves along quickly, but not too quickly: Reading her novel is akin to enjoying a good meal at a nice restaurant rather than being rushed into and out of a fast-food joint. She gives you time to enjoy the narrative - including her descriptions of San Francisco and the surrounding countryside - without sending you into a foot-tapping or leg-jiggling frenzy while you're impatiently waiting for the next course,
'Dim Sum, Dead Some' is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery with an engaging heroine and it is a book that I enjoyed immensely.
I highly recommend it.
Designed by Kaplan herself, the attractive cover could easily find a home on the front of any theater district Playbill in New York.
Sounding more like a delectable culinary play set in five Acts (The Recipe, The Ingredients, The Proof, The Heat, and The Plate), the online food-critic-turned-amateur-sleuth, Josie Tucker, opens each Act (part) with a snippet from her online column, "Will Blog for Food." But what makes them crucial is the subtle meaning infused within Josie's "blog" that directly correlates with the theme of each Act and its constituent scenes (chapters).
The comedic, original use of pop-culture analogies and inventive, metaphor-filled prose adds dimension to Josie's serious investigation into the disappearance of Ivan Sorokin. Kaplan's disarmingly playful approach is almost like an aside to the audience--injecting supplemental commentary that perfectly dovetails into the story. Kaplan's sense of humor shines brilliantly; so much so, the reader will actually catch themselves laughing out loud (I certainly did).
The author's deft use of plot devices, colorful characters from all walks of life, and detailed locales that cover the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, and western Massachusetts, creates a plausible sense of reality.
One Godfather-styled character in particular, Greta Williams, seems to have her hands in more pies than Josie Tucker's ability to review in her food blog. While her appearance is occasional, she is a pivotal character with questionable influence that apparently spans the country from Beacon Hill to the San Francisco Police Department.
Kaplan's quirky title and spirited writing strikes just the right balance of mystery, suspense, and humor and belies the marked dedication of a truly gifted and seasoned author at the apex of her craft.
The author has created an endearing main character, a young Boston woman who is employed as a food blogger, but has major stomach issues (notice any irony there). Josie Tucker can be characterized as a somewhat neurotic, vulnerable and lovable semi screw up. She gets involved with sleuthing at the behest of a mysterious and ultra-rich benefactor, Greta Williams. It invariably leads to awkwardness, trouble and physical injury.
It’s not physical injury though, but emotional injury and healing that is a major subtext of the Dim Sum, Dead Sum. Dim sum means hearts delight and the food version is used in the book as a metaphor for emotional satisfaction — something that has remained elusive for Josie in her life so far. Finally, she has a chance for personal fulfillment with her new doctor boyfriend Drew (note that he’s a healer), if her private detective activities don’t screw everything up and if she gets out her current case in one piece. I suspect that this is also a theme in the first volume in the series, which I haven’t read yet, but will be doing so soon. Am also looking forward to the next installment. EM Kaplan is definitely an author worth following by Mystery book fans.