About the Book
Genre: Cozy Mystery, #1 in A Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery Series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Release Date: April 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads...
Zoe Chase always wanted to own her own restaurant—but first, she’ll have to serve up a heaping helping of meals on wheels, with a side of mystery
When she’s once again passed over for a promotion at work, Zoe decides to take the big leap and go for her dream. She quits, gives up her fancy digs, and buys a fixer-upper diner in a shady part of town. To keep above water during the renovation, she buys a used food truck to serve the downtown and waterfront of Mobile, Alabama.
Zoe starts to dish out classic Southern food—but her specialty is her deep-fried biscuit bowls that blow traditional bread bowls away.
After a promising start, things start to go downhill faster than a food truck without brakes. First, someone tries to rob the cash register. Next, Zoe is threatened by the owner of a competing food truck for taking their spot. And when the owner ends up dead inside Zoe’s rolling restaurant, Zoe and her sole employee, Ollie, find themselves hopping out of the frying pan into the fryer. They need to find the real killer, before both of them get burned.
After losing out on a promotion at the bank where she has been a senior loan officer, Zoe Chase quits. She always wanted her own restaurant, so she follows her dreams and buys a run down diner and food truck. The area isn’t in the safest location, but it’s all hers. Zoe is filled with excitement and hope for a bright future. However, her wealthy parents and her fiancé, Tommy Lee, aren’t impressed and think she’s lost her mind. She realizes she and Tommy Lee have different outlooks for the future and she breaks things off. It’s an easy decision, especially after she sees him kissing another woman.
As her parents and Tommy Lee do everything to convince Zoe to change her mind, she puts her heart into making her food truck and diner a success. Her specialty dish is her biscuit bowls and they are a huge success. Her future looks bright until she discovers a dead body in her food truck. To make matters worse, the body belongs to one of her food truck competitors who she happened to recently fought. Of course the police immediately suspect Zoe of the murder, giving her parents another reason to get her out of the restaurant business.
Things continue to go downhill for Zoe when her truck is broken into and she receives threats. Adding to her misery is someone thinks the dead man gave something valuable to Zoe. She has no idea what this is all about but things are heating up and not in a good way. With the help of some friends and her cat, Crème Brulee, Zoe finds her dreams of running a restaurant may come to an end before they even start.
J.J. Cook is fast becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. This is another brand new series and I loved it from page one. Zoe is a fun, lively character. She has a lot of energy and a huge heart to match. She can easily become a beloved character as the series continues. There’s a potential romance in the air with attorney, Miguel Alexander. I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops.
Zoe’s parents and ex-fiance were a bit annoying at times and treated her like she was ten years old but she stood up to them and held her own against them. There is a diverse array of supporting characters that I’m looking forward to reading about again. Of course my favorite, next to Zoe, was her heroic cat, Crème Brulee. What a great name for a cat!
The mystery moved along at a good pace, although I must admit I did suspect the culprit rather early. However, there were so many twists or turns along the way, I wasn’t really sure. I enjoyed this one and will definitely have my open for the next release.
For reading challenges:
2014 ARC Reading Challenge
2014 Foodies Reading Challenge
2014 My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge
Where are you reading? challenge (Alabama)
FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Author Guest Post
Writing about food and mystery
Biscuit Bowl Mysteries
By Joyce Lavene
Food and mysteries seem to go so well together. I’m not sure why that is, but I have to accept it as fact! Just look at how many fabulous food mysteries are out on the market today.
It’s not always easy writing about food in this context. What if someone doesn’t like the food you have in your book? That could throw them off the whole story.
When we (my husband and I write together as J.J. Cook) decided to write Death on Eat Street, the first Biscuit Bowl mystery, we wanted to write about comfort food.
The good thing about comfort food is that it’s hard to go wrong. Not everyone likes caviar, but most people like potatoes. Bread—as in biscuits—is also a food everyone loves. Maybe they deny themselves because of their waistlines, but not many people sneak a bite of celery when they’re looking for something good to eat.
Our protagonist, Zoe Chase, has a deep love for Southern comfort food. She’s been raised with it around Mobile, Alabama, from her uncle’s restaurant, to friends’ eateries. She loves the smell and taste of simple food made in wonderful ways.
She really wants her own restaurant with hundreds of fans waiting outside to get in each night. But she knows that takes time. She’s willing to build her reputation by making the best biscuits and fillings ever. She has faith that it will come to her if she works hard enough.
Zoe has help from her Uncle Saul, who owned a restaurant when he was younger. She also has Ollie, with his grandmother’s recipes for great Cajun food. Together, they’ll battle the odds every new business finds stacked against them. And they’ll do it with great food!
Which comes back to my point about food and mysteries. Great food is at the heart of good food mysteries—whether they’re in food trucks like Zoe’s—or in small cake shops. Recipes are tested, and approved, before they’re put in the back of books. The love of food is woven into each chapter, providing delight, and hunger pains, to each reader.
What is your favorite food mystery? Do you enjoy the more sophisticated foods, or would you rather read about foods you might make at home in your kitchen every day? Have you ever used a recipe from the back of a food mystery?
It makes me hungry just thinking about it. It might be time to try a new biscuit bowl recipe!
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