When a chef is murdered, the search for the killer takes a private investigator to a culinary school where everyone has something to hide in this sixth installment of a series.
As the lead private eye for her family’s Silicon Valley–based business, Discretionary Inquiries, Liana “Lee” Alvarez has learned to expect the unexpected. One morning, her brother, Richard, tells her their Uncle Tío has a girlfriend named Patsy Durand. The owner of a chain of restaurants called Sooie Cochon, Patsy is teaching at the Palo Alto Culinary Arts Institute. Tío’s besotted with the Southern chef, but her arrest for murder threatens to bring an end to the romance. Head teaching chef Jacques Chalifour was found stabbed to death in a pantry, and Patsy is the prime suspect. Patsy and Jacques argued shortly before the murder, and forensic evidence ties her to the crime. Tío believes she is innocent and asks Lee to investigate. Lee goes undercover at the institute, where she discovers nothing is quite what it seems. Patsy’s former husband, Hayes, and her sons, Wallace and Peter, are supportive but evasive. When another body is discovered at the institute, Lee discovers Jacques had his own secrets and someone will stop at nothing to ensure they stay hidden. This latest installment of Haven’s (Honeymoons Can Be Murder, 2017, etc.) murder mystery series offers a twisty whodunit laced with a healthy dose of suspense. Lee is an appealing heroine who is faced with a case where everybody has secrets, including the victim. The fast-paced tale builds tension primarily through Lee’s investigation, which takes her inside the storied culinary school. Members of the Alvarez family figure prominently as supporting characters in the tale, including Lee’s mother, Lila, and Richard. Haven skillfully includes enough backstory on the Alvarezes to acquaint newcomers to the series without overshadowing the central mystery. Humor is also a significant part of the narrative, from Lee’s dry wit to the puns in the chapter titles (“A Wrinkle in Thyme”; “The Sound and the Curry”). The book may appeal to fans of Sue Grafton or Diane Mott Davidson.
A solidly entertaining mystery.