Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Liver Let Die - Liz Lipperman

Liver Let Die
A Clueless Cook Mystery
Liz Lipperman
Berkley Prime Crime
Jordan McAllister’s dream is to be a sports writer.  She’s getting there.  Sort of.  At the moment, she’s doing personal ads for a paper in a small town outside Dallas.  It’s a start.  When the editor, Dwayne Egan, summons Jordan, she’s sure that her probationary period is over and she’s being shown the street.  Instead, Egan asks her to take over a food column, called Kitchen Kupboard, whose usual writer is laid up after a mishap.  Of course, the woman could write the column from a bed, but, being the niece of the owner, she’s decided to take some paid time off.  Which means Jordan will be writing the food column (a subject about which she knows nothing) and the personals, for the same pitiful salary.

Her first assignment is to review a four-star restaurant.  Aside from knowing nothing about food that comes without fries on the side, Jordan has an aversion to red meat.  That’s going to make reviewing an upscale steak house problematic, at best.  The waiter, J.T., recommends the foie gras, and Jordan orders it, thinking she’s getting chicken.  She’s wrong: she’s getting fatty duck liver.  Hoping to disguise her (completely understandable) distaste, she actually shoves the offending entrée into her borrowed evening bag.  This action sets off a chain of events that results in J.T.’s murder in Jordan’s apartment building.  And that’s only the beginning.
I’m disappointed to say that I had the main mystery almost completely sussed out by the end of the second chapter.  I don’t think that shows any great detective work on my part; it’s simply that the main mystery is presented in fairly obvious ways.  There is a subplot that’s quite tricky and carries a good deal of the rest of the book, though.  More problematic is the tone of the book: it’s all over the place.  Of course, any cozy mystery needs a bit of levity to balance the more serious scenes; but this story moves from one to the next with nothing in between.  Smoothing out these abrupt shifts would be helpful.
The hook of this series is that a woman who doesn’t know how to cook at all gets a gig writing a food column and presenting recipes. That’s something that may be difficult to maintain past an installment or two.  Jordan can’t keep publishing her friends’ recipes forever.  Learning to cook in future books might be a nice way to allow Jordan’s character to grow.  I hope we get to see more of the neighbors who serve as Jordan’s family away from home.  They’re an eccentric bunch, but a group that seems real and caring.  As far as friends go, Jordan couldn’t have landed in a better place.  Here’s hoping the series grows and evolves with the characters.

Rating: 6 ½
October 2011
ISBN# 978-0-425-24404-3 (paperback)


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