Thursday, May 26, 2016

Death at Breakfast (Book Review)

Title: Death at Breakfast
Author: Beth Gutcheon
Publication: William Morrow Hardcover, May 2016
Genre: Fiction
Plot: When Maggie and Hope, two old friends, travel to small town Maine to attend a week of cooking classes at a historic inn, they expect to hang out with other foodies and figure out if they would make good travel companions for more distant trips. However, in the midst of mastering pumpkin polenta, they get entangled in the mysterious murder of an unpleasant Greek-American magnate, and decide their combined common sense and connections can be used to help Hope’s son, Buster, the oddball deputy sheriff, find out what really happened before breakfast at the Oquossoc Mountain Inn.

Audience: fans of witty contemporary fiction; readers who like Elinor Lipman and Laura Zigman

What I liked: What made this book were the quirky friends: Maggie, a retired private school headmistress, and Hope, an affluent divorcee whose children attended the school. They are surprisingly insightful, with complementary strengths, and while the actual mystery was not very hard to figure out, the way they attacked the situation and mingled with hotel guests, staff, and townies was entertaining and got the job done.

As a fan of classic mysteries that take place in an isolated manor house or at a house party, I appreciated the modern setting of a residential, upscale cooking class where the characters are stranded when a murder takes place. A nice touch was that the Inn had poor Internet access, driving all the guests crazy when first they are curious about the obnoxious new guests and then when they want to tell all their friends about the drama taking place at the Inn.

What I disliked: I had a hard time keeping all the characters straight but after a while I figured out which ones were going to matter and all became clear in the last few chapters. I never understood why Hope’s son was so wary of his mother, however. Was it merely self protective because he doesn’t feel he has lived up to her expectations? It was Maggie more than Hope who had been judgmental about him in the past.
Source: This was a fun and different read which I recommend (the food descriptions were an added bonus but I don't read reading while hungry). I have enjoyed books by Gutcheon, a fellow Radcliffe alumna, in the past and had been looking forward to this since I heard about it (and that was before I realized her current editor is my talented friend Jennifer Brehl).

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in return for an honest review, and suggest that you visit the tour to check out other reviews:

May 10th: A Chick Who Reads
May 11th: Dwell in Possibility
May 12th:  Five Minutes for Books
May 13th: Back Porchervations
May 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
May 18th: Booksie's Blog
May 19th: Booked on a Feeling
May 23rd: Books and Bindings
May 24th: From the TBR Pile
May 23rd: Buried Under Books
May 27th: Kritters Ramblings
May 30th:


Unknown said...

Hi - I'm also a fan of classic mysteries. I can't help but think 'Clue' as I read your review that the characters were stranded when the murder takes place. :)
@dino0726 from 
FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

That poor internet access would drive me crazy too! LOL

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

GSGreatEscaper said...

I do like Beth Gutcheon and will add to my TBR list!