Publisher: Purple Panda Press | Publication date: 7th April 2015 | Edition: Kindle (Review Copy)
BOOK #1 IN SERIES “They say one should never trust a thin chef. By this measure, Chef Maurice was very trustworthy indeed.” Take one sleepy Cotswold village, mix in one Poirot-esque murder mystery, add a larger-than-life French chef with an appetite for solving crime, and season with clues and red herrings galore . . . It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion.
Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery-he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village. Soon, Chef Maurice is up to his nose in some seriously rotten business-complete with threatening notes, a pignapping, and an extremely well-catered stake-out. Can he solve Ollie’s murder before his home-made investigation brings the killer out for second helpings?
I have a confession to make – I found myself binging on this book, as it did get quite addictive!
Imagine a career Hercule Poirot would excel at if he wasn’t a detective? In A Spot of Truffle he appears to be reincarnated as Chef Maurice – the rotund French connoisseur of the finest ingredients and dishes to the whole of Bleakey!
This quirky Chef has certainly found his niche owning a restaurant in this culinary conundrum / cum murder mystery. Even his friend and restaurant critic, Arthur Wordington-Smythe, resembles Poirot’s old side-kick Captain Arthur Hastings. In fact, I was half expecting Margaret Rutherford to pop up!
As the residents could have stepped straight off a Midsomer Murders set, the only love interest waivers between an elderly fungi expert (that’s with her mushrooms, not fun guys) and the straight-laced PC Lucy, who Chef Maurice’s shy Sous-Chef admires from a distance. While our young PC is preoccupied with the shocking and unexpected notion of any romantic attention, the restaurateur gives the authorities a run for their money by stirring up the investigation by adding a few of his own ingredients to the mix. It doesn’t always have the same success as he does with his food.
There are menaces and puzzles to get to the bottom of, expensive produce to hunt in the woods, a series of odd break-ins, and when tragedy strikes local forager ‘jack-the-lad’ Ollie, who has mysteriously disappeared, will anyone in the village ever locate the poor chap?! The icing on the cake could only be provided by introducing a micro-pig into the equation (GO, MICRO PIGGY!).
Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle is a wonderful, farcical investigation. Being such an honest and utterly feel-good book, it doesn’t rely on additives like expletives, romps or shock tactics to spoil the dish. It’s a story full of great characters and humour that will leave you smiling – when you’ve finished it, it’ll feel like you’ve scoffed a big wedge of home-made apple pie and custard, that was served by a quick-witted friend.
A light-hearted and relaxing read, and one I’d highly recommend for raising your spirits.
(My thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Great stuff.)
J.A. Lang is the author of the Chef Maurice Mysteries, set in the fictional Cotswold village of Beakley, conveniently located within driving distance of her home in Oxford, England. She lives with her husband, an excessive number of cookbooks, and a sourdough starter named Bob.
Her favourite authors include Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett.
When not at her writing desk, she enjoys cooking, eating, travelling to places with good food, drinking good wine, and thinking about her next meal. (Please note that any similarities between J.A. Lang and her main character, Chef Maurice, are purely coincidental.)
To keep up to date with new releases, please hop over to http://www.jalang.net/ to sign up for her reader newsletter.
Also available in this series: