A Cornish Recipe For Murder (2022) by Fiona Leitch

Jodie Parker has done well for herself since moving back to Penstowan. A former officer with the Met, she now has a new career as a chef and a new partner in the form of local DCI Nathan Withers. Oh, and she’s also helped solve a few local murders too.

Her current concern is the TV sensation “The Best Of British Baking Roadshow” which has rolled into town for the Cornwall heat. Setting up its tent in the grounds of Boskern House, Jodie finds her cooking skills pushed to the limit as the competition is far stiffer than she expected – especially when someone seems to be sabotaging her efforts.

More concerning, though, is the body of one of the production team that is soon found in the grounds of the house. Can Jodie solve the murder and win the competition?

Yes, it’s cosy time. One of my book chums, when I described this book, was somewhat perplexed at why I was reading it, but I do enjoy the odd cosy. Sometimes there can be a well-constructed mystery plot hidden therein – the Chef Maurice books are the obvious examples that spring to mind. What has brought down some recent cosy reads is the balance between the life and career of the sleuth and the actual plot. I’ve found myself lured in by a decent first book only to be disappointed in this way with book two. This is book five, so I figured if this was a problem with this one, it would be on full display here.

It’s not, thankfully. This is clearly in cosy territory – distinctive career, love interest police officer, etc – but the focus is on the twin plots of sabotage and murder which may or may not be related. Oh, there’s a recipe or two in here as well.

All in all, this is an entertaining read. It’s a jolly read, and it’s nice to see a book without the constant “you shouldn’t be investigating” strand. In fact, it looks like Cornwall CID seem woefully understaffed as everyone is perfectly happy for Jodie to pitch in and tell them who the killer is. The characters are enjoyable, both the regulars and the suspects.

Having said that, I can’t recommend this for followers of the blog who thrive on the complexity of Christianna Brand or Agatha Christie. There’s a bit of a misdirection as to whether he was the intended victim or not, but at the end of the day, the murderer conveniently drops a clue that basically identifies who they are and then it’s just a matter of cracking a not-too-tricky alibi. There’s more complexity in the sabotage strand of the plot, to be honest. At least the killer isn’t caught trying to kill the sleuth.

But despite this, this is an entertaining tale with some charming characters at the heart of it. Next time I fancy a comfortable read, I may well be heading back to Cornwall.

A Cornish Recipe For Murder is out from One More Chapter in paperback and ebook on Thursday August 18th. Many thanks to the publishers for the e-copy via NetGalley.

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