Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Murder on the Menu - Miranda Bliss

Murder On The Menu
A Cooking Class Mystery
Miranda Bliss
Berkley Prime Crime


Annie Capshaw’s life is very full. Not only does she work her day job as a bank teller; she works nights and weekends as the manager for a new restaurant, recently inherited by her new guy, Jim MacDonald. Annie is equally worried about the budding relationship after enduring a very better divorce, and the never-ending invoices that come with redecorating, revamping, and restocking the restaurant. The restaurant’s name? Bellywasher’s. Sadly, Jim cannot change the name, since his Uncle Angus (who claimed it was a drinking term) specified in his will that the name must stay. But Jim is determined to change it from a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood bar to a high-visibility place to eat in Alexandria, VA.

Annie’s best friend, Eve is pitching in, too. She’s putting her southern charm and good looks to good use as the new hostess. And she’s already spreading the word among friends. On opening day, Sarah Whittaker, a woman they haven’t seen since high school, appears to check out the place. Sarah has done quite well for herself and is currently on staff with Senator Douglas Mercy. The Senator is rumored to be a contender for the office of vice president in the next elections.

Arriving at Sarah’s high-security building for dinner later the next week, Annie and Eve are unable to get her to answer her phone or buzzer. After much discussion, a maintenance man admits that he’s been getting complaints about Sarah’s apartment all day. Her dog’s constant barking is annoying the neighbors. Entering the apartment, everything looks fine until Annie finds Sarah in the tub. Her wrists are cut and a bloody knife rests on the floor next to her. Sarah had everything going for her; it's hard to believe that she’d kill herself. A couple of suspiciously timed “accidents” convince them that Sarah’s death wasn’t suicide; it was murder.

The first book in the series, COOKING UP MURDER, revolved around a cooking class helmed by Jim. This time around, the venue is completely different: a start-up restaurant. There are plenty of suspects around, both in politics and in the food business. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant in any capacity will tell you that it's a wild mix of personalities. Emphasis on the love lives of Annie and Eve slants this series toward chick lit, but with these characters, it works very well. Whether you enjoy cozy mysteries, foodie mysteries, or chick lit, you’ll find something to enjoy here.

Rating: 6 1/2
June 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21607-1 (paperback)


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