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Friday, March 18, 2022

Cheese-Themed Cozy Gouda Been Better

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is in desperate need of a new start. Yarrow Glen—a picturesque little town in California's Sonoma Valley—seems like the perfect place for the 33-year-old to begin anew. It's beautiful, serene, and appealing to tourists with money to spend. Willa hopes they will be just as enchanted as she is by her new cheese shop, Curds & Whey. A positive review from Guy Lippinger, the local restaurant critic, will help immensely. If only she can impress the hard-to-please foodie.

Guy's surprise visit to the cheese shop turns into a very public, very embarrassing disaster. Things quickly go from bad to worst when the critic is found dead, a Curds & Whey knife embedded in his neck. Willa is shocked not just by the killing but by the fact that she is now the prime suspect in his murder. Guy was not a popular man, but who hated him enough to end his life? Willa is determined to find out before the new life she's worked so hard to create for herself crumbles like an aged asiago. Can she track down the killer before she, herself, becomes the next victim? 

A cheese-themed cozy mystery sounded fun, so I delved into Cheddar Off Dead (available March 29, 2022), a debut novel by Korina Moss, with hopeful expectations. With its punny title and cheery cover art, I definitely found the book's packaging appealing. As for content, like most cozies, this series opener is a light, clean, easy read that's entertaining even if it's not realistic or believable. The characters are likable for the most part, although none of them stand out as really unique or memorable. Willa is so-so as a leading lady. She's agreeable enough, although she doesn't have much of a personality and she's very fickle when it comes to men (all of whom are instantly smitten with her, naturally). I didn't love her, but I didn't hate her. As far as the mystery goes, I saw the killer coming from fairly early on. There's enough going on in the story that their identity isn't complete obvious, which made the plot compelling enough to keep me reading. Moss' prose is pretty ho-hum, although the story has some clever lines here and there that made me smile. All considered, I found Cheddar Off Dead to be an okay read. Will I continue with the series? I'm undecided at this point. I think it has potential, so I'll probably give the second book a shot. We'll see.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other food-themed cozies, like those by Ellie Alexander, Vivien Chien, Amanda Flower, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Cheddar Off Dead from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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