"You know, it doesn't count if you eat a truffle on Friday. Calorie-wise, that is. Especially if it's the first Friday of the month."—Toasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken (Berkley Books, 2016, p. 1)
J.J. Tanner grinned at her friend and colleague, Skye Drake, then popped the chili dark chocolate truffle into her mouth. She closed her eyes as she chewed and finished it off with a long sigh. "What about eating two truffles?"
- Setting: Vermont, modern times
- Circumstances: Event planner Jennifer (J.J.) Tanner is heard arguing with a snooty chef over the bill and their contract in the wee hours while J.J. was cleaning up after a successful party for a rich client. The next morning, she's taken to the police station, accused of murder. As J.J. works to prove her innocence—helped by a cute private detective—some of her friends are marked as potential suspects. Meanwhile, J.J.'s organizing events for other clients as well as hosting a meal for her Culinary Capers dinner club. Will she manage to get everything done, find the real killer, and not become a victim herself?
- Genre: cozy culinary mystery; first in a new series
- Characters: J.J., accountant turned event planner; Skye, her friend and new boss, Ness, her ex-policeman neighbor; Ty Devine, a private investigator; her friends and fellow members of the dinner club; various clients, townsfolk, and police officers
- What I liked: Fun culinary cozy with good characters who have each other's back. I enjoyed getting to know the people in J.J.'s life, and I loved all the food references. There is a lot of setup in this book because it's the first in a series, but the plot moved along well. The murder mystery itself was complex while still being light, and I liked the tie-in to the local Italian community. I also liked the hint at a possible relationship for J.J. in future installments in the series.
- Recommendation: Perfect for beach reading, though you might end up being a little hungry by the time you finish. Fortunately, Wiken includes a few recipes at the end of the book, so you can head to the kitchen and make your own Italian dinner. Toasting Up Trouble is a promising start to the new Dinner Club mystery series and a good choice for cozy fans who like to cook.
Thanks to the nice people at Berkley Prime Crime, I can offer one of my readers a copy of Linda Wiken's Toasting Up Trouble. All you need to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form and have a USA mailing address. I'll pick a winner via a random number generator on July 15. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll delete all personal information from my computer. Good luck!