Monday, December 26, 2022

Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking - A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery #2

Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking is the second Caribbean Kitchen cozy mystery by Raquel V. Reyes. Released 8th Nov 2022 by Crooked Lane, it's 336 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a fun cozy mystery full of food, culture, and (as the author herself refers to it) "Spanglish" phrases. The amateur sleuth is also a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in food culture and also the host of her own youtube channel and network cooking show. The plotting moves along at a good clip and I never found myself yanked out of the story by clunky dialogue or uneven writing. There is a fair amount of Spanish in the story, more than usual, but almost all of it is either easy to understand in context or explained by character responses.

The central characters are appealing, well rounded and largely female. Most of the male characters almost seem to be included as window dressing, but the central mystery and investigation carry the story quite well. There are a phenomenal number of food descriptions included and the author has an impressive grasp of ingredients and history for the relevant dishes and their importance to the different cultures who developed them. There's a lot of really interesting food history to be found. 

The climax, resolution, and denouement are self contained in this volume, so it works well as a standalone. The violence is mostly off-page and not extreme, given that it's a cozy mystery. The main character's mother-in-law is horribly racist and just plain mean, to the degree that she made it difficult to read the scenes in which she's featured (which is about 15% of the book). If MC Miriam's husband doesn't step up and do something about his mother, they'll be divorced and their kid Manny will be in therapy in 5 years. 

The book includes several delicious and intriguing recipes which are featured in the media scenes from her cooking show.

Four stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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