Thursday, November 05, 2020

A Diverse Cozy Mystery? Yes, Please!


(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After earning her MBA, Bronwyn "Win" Crewse decides to put her skills to good use by taking over the operation of her family's ice cream parlor in quaint Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  She's got big ideas for how to bring the business into the 21st Century while still keeping the menu focused on her grandmother's beloved recipes.  Unfortunately, Win's renovations cause a delay in her plans to reopen the shop during the peak of summer tourist season.  Opening while snows piles up on the ground doesn't exactly lure customers in for a frozen treat.  What can Win do to entice people to venture through her door?

A light bulb moment sends Win on a late-night traipse down an isolated, snow-covered path.  What she finds freezes the very blood in her veins.  Although she doesn't recognize the man lying dead at her feet, he's soon identified as a drifter who once caused financial ruin for the Crewse Family.  When it's discovered that he was poisoned with a difficult-to-find drug, Win's physician father becomes the prime suspect.  With a fledgling business and her family's reputation at stake, Win's not leaving the murder investigation to a biased police force.  As she does her own sleuthing, she makes some shocking discoveries that will put her vulnerable neck on the line.  Can she crack the case and save her family's beloved ice cream shop before it's too late?

The first in a new culinary cozy mystery series, A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette brings some fresh ingredients to the genre.  It's written by an author of color and features a professional Black family, which is something I haven't encountered before in a cozy.  While I've read cozies set in candy stores, cafés, bakeries, breweries, and all kinds of restaurants, I've never encountered one set in an ice cream parlor.  These elements bring some originality to a book that otherwise ticks off all the usual cozy boxes:  an unlikely death in a small town, quirky characters, an amateur detective, and a mostly predictable storyline.  While the plot's a little slow, I still enjoyed A Deadly Inside Scoop overall.  I appreciated its original elements, its emphasis on family loyalty, and the fact that it's a clean, entertaining enough read.  I can't say this series debut knocked my socks off, but it engaged me enough that I'm keeping an eye out for the next installment.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other culinary mystery series, including those written by Vivien Chien, Eve Calder, Kylie Logan, and Ellie Alexander)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

18 comments:

  1. I have never read a cozy mystery and, to be honest, am not totally sure what the definition is. It's funny to think they are set in eating establishments.

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    1. "Cozy" usually means a light, PG-rated mystery where the violence happens off-screen. It has little language (maybe a hell or damn here and there) and no sex. They usually have quaint settings, quirky characters, and amateur detectives. Usually, the main character owns their own business and there are a variety—bookstores, hobby shops, restaurants, etc. The mysteries are usually pretty predictable and the amateur detective's actions are far-fetched. STILL, I appreciate that cozies are clean, easy reads that don't give me nightmares!

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  2. I've always struggled when trying to read a cozy because they seem to pull so many punches in favor of remaining cozy. But I stumbled into the Grantchester PBS series a while back and I'm now in the third season and really enjoying it. Imagine my surprise to learn that the books upon which the series is based are classified as "cozy." Maybe I need to give cozys another chance.

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    1. "Realistic" is not a world usually associated with cozies! You have to suspend your belief pretty heavily in order to read them :)

      I haven't heard of the Grantchester show. I'll have to check it out.

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    2. Thanks for bringing up Grantchester. I hadn't heard of it before you mentioned it, but I'm really enjoying it!

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  3. I don't read a lot of cozies, but I do like the sound of the characters in this one. :)

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    1. I just appreciate that the main characters are different from the norm. It's refreshing!

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  4. Nice choice! I've never heard of it, but it looks exciting. I may check it out...

    Interestingly enough, one of the kid-lit books I reviewed a few months ago is written by a Chagrin Falls resident and is set in Chagrin Falls! If you're interested, you can read my review here:

    https://steppingstonesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2020/06/a-book-review-great-historic-mystery.html

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    1. Really? How funny! I've read lots of books this year that are set in Ohio - not sure why as it's been mostly random picks.

      Thanks for the link to your review - I'll check it out.

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  5. That's a clever book cover. Suits the book well!

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    1. Agreed. It's very eye-catching and illustrates what the book is about very well.

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  6. I like the odd cosy but am really into the sort of 'medium' crime books. Can't take the gory ones but like something inbetween those and cosy... Louise Penny for instance. That said, sometimes what you need is something comforting and my 'go to' tends to be a light romance set in France or Cornwall or vintage crime from the 1930s. That said, this book sounds like fun.

    You take care.

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    1. My preference is "medium" as well. Cozies are what I read when I want something light and entertaining. Louise Penny-ish is more my speed. I'm trying to get away from the gorier mystery/thrillers because they seem to weigh heavily on my soul. Plus, I don't want the nightmares! I'm an old lady - I need my sleep!

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  7. I don't love copies, but diversity is something to be celebrated! Thanks for the review.

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    1. Definitely something to celebrate! Cozies seem to be dragging behind the times a bit, although one of my favorite series is about a Chinese-American community in Ohio.

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  8. I read a lot of cozies strictly for the escape and entertainment. When I saw this one, I passed as I have so many series on the go already. After reading your review, I will now have to go back and pick this one up. You're right, diversity in cozies is slow in coming, but it is coming.

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    1. The diverse characters is really all that makes this one stand out. Otherwise, it's pretty humdrum, but I'm hoping the series gets better as it goes along. Let me know what you think of this one if you end up reading it.

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