Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Long Quiche Goodbye

The Long Quiche Goodbye
Author: Avery Aames
Berkley, 2010
309 pages

Here's the first in a fairly new (2010) food-themed mystery series, this one centered around a small-town Ohio cheese shop. Cheesemonger Charlotte Bessette is the thirtysomething granddaughter of the cheese shop's owners, French immigrants whom she refers to as Grandmère and Pépère. When Grandmère (who also happens to be the town's mayor and up for re-election) is accused of murdering the husband of her opponent (I should mention here that the victim was also a philandering sort of fellow who was also a local real estate mogul), Charlotte springs into action to clear her grandmother's name.

You know, I read a lot of foodie mysteries and other types of mysteries, and let's face it, most of them are pretty formulaic. Usually the main character is someone you think you could be friends with. They're always experts in some particular field (coffee, tea, wine, cupcakes, etc.) They're always heterosexuals, so of course there have to be two potential and usually hunky love interests. They always have a best friend or sidekick. Truth is, The Long Quiche Goodbye has all of these. But it goes further, and takes the reader into some fresh, new directions. The Long Quiche Goodbye has a very diverse cast of characters: French, Italian, Japanese, African-American, Hawaiian . . . to name a few. There's a character who was raised Amish, but who has left her family and community. There's a single dad, and his lovely twin daughters (one of whom is gluten-intolerant). There are the two septuagenarian grandparent characters, and neither of them is a stereotypical elderly person. In fact, no one character seems to exemplify any stereotypes. This is what I like most about the first Cheese Shop Mystery.

As for the cheese, you learn quite a bit about it: different varieties, where it comes from, unique cheese trivia, what types of cheese pair well with certain wines, and so forth. Clearly the author knows her cheese. :-) So if you're looking for a cheese-y escape for a few hours, along with a good mystery (I didn't guess the murderer until the very end), you might enjoy this. The series' second offering, Lost and Fondue,  will be released in the USA in just a few days - on Tuesday (3 May).