The “Mystery with Recipes” is currently a four-part series of cozy mysteries written by food and travel writer I. Crawford. Throughout the series, readers have come to know the likeable main characters, sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons—amateur detectives, caterers, and owners of A Taste of Heaven, a bakery in a New York City suburb. With humorous dialogue, clever sleuthing, and a cast of supporting characters including their gruff but well-intentioned father, Libby’s clumsy and accident-prone boyfriend, and Bernie’s more stable love interest, the “Mystery with Recipes” series are typical cozy mysteries with an added dose of delectable food writing.
In A Catered Christmas, the Simmons sisters have been asked to display their cooking abilities in a cooking competition with other characters on the Hortense Calabash Cooking Show. Unfortunately, however, on the first day of filming, an oven explodes and the not-well-liked Hortense Calabash is murdered. With the pressure of the show and lots of hidden secrets, the five other caterers in the competition, the show’s demanding producer, and the assistant who takes over the hosting position, provide a collection of suspects for the sisters’ to explore.
While the sisters try to manage the demanding catering and baking business of the holidays, the heightened stress of Christmas, and their personal relationships with each other and their romantic interests, they also manage to investigate the numerous suspects and suspicious motives to discover the killer.
Although some of the grammatical and editing errors that appear in the other books of the series are here as well, the plot of A Catered Christmas is more appealing and quickly-paced, the killer more difficult to identify, and the dialogue more witty than the other books in the series—keeping readers turning pages and enjoying the novel.
The insight into the food industry, including relationships among competing chefs, “behind the scenes” cooking shortcuts, and the demands placed on caterers (especially during the holidays) is especially interesting in the book. Descriptions of various cooking methods, special dishes, and the collection of recipes at the end (although unrelated to the plot in any way) add to the pleasure for food writing fans.
As with other cozy mysteries, A Catered Christmas is a fast-paced light-hearted whodunit that will delight readers.
Title: A Catered Christmas
Author: I. Crawford
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Amazon’s Kindle
The series also includes A Catered Murder, A Catered Wedding, A Catered Valentine’s Day, and the newly released A Catered Halloween.