by: Julia Buckley
Series: Undercover Dish Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Penguin Berkley Prime Crime
Caterer and cook Lilah Drake is up to her elbows in deadly trouble in the latest mystery from the author of The Big Chili...
The Christmas holidays are one of Lilah’s favorite times of the year, filled with friends, family, and, of course, tons of food orders for her Covered Dish clients. But Lilah’s Yuletide cheer ends when she sees a most Grinch-like crime: the murder of a Santa in a school parking lot.
It turns out the deceased Kris Kringle was a complicated tangle of naughty and nice, with a long list of people who might have wanted him dead. And whoever did the deed wants to make sure that Lilah keeps quiet. Now, Lilah will have to team up with her former fling, Detective Jay Parker, to unwrap the mysteries of a deadly Christmas killer and stay alive long enough to ring in the New Year...
Last year, I read The Big Chili and immediately fell in love with the characters. I couldn’t wait for Cheddar Off Dead to come out. When I found out the book was going to have a Christmas theme, I was beyond excited. The only thing holding me back from reading the story in September when it came out was the fact that it revolved around Christmas. I wasn’t prepared to think about Christmas. Now, I am. While Cheddar Off Dead is the second book in the Undercover Dish Mystery series, it is a standalone read.
Cheddar of Dead starts out with the delivery of macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. It's interesting that food that brings comfort is an integral part of a story that also brings comfort. I’m one of those readers who loves to sit back and lose myself in a cozy mystery. I’m talking hot tea or hot chocolate with a cozy blanket and I’ve created my comfort zone.
This story hit on everything I love in a cozy mystery. There was enough to keep me invested in figuring out what happened. The secondary characters were great and provided enough misdirection to make you look in the wrong direction. The Christmas setting was one of my favorite parts. I loved the tug of war with the romance between Police Detective Jay Parker and Lilah Drake, caterer and amatuer slueth. There was a lot of back and forth of “are they or are they not a couple”. Surprisingly, this part was written in such a way that it didn’t become irritating.
One thing I didn’t like about the story was that it portrayed the Pine Haven police force as keystone cops. I’m not exactly sure what they were investigating. It’s like they never knew the right questions to ask and every lead they got was the result of Lilah doing her own investigating. The moment when Julia Buckley made an unexpected, surprising connection was shocking. I loved the reveal of the murderer and the fallout from it.
Julia Buckley’s Undercover Dish Mystery series is one I hope never ends. I’m looking forward to returning to Pine Haven and seeing what’s in store for Lilah, Jay, and the rest of the characters.
**Received a copy from Penguin Berkley and voluntarily reviewed the book.**
Purchase Cheddar Off Dead from:
The Undercover Dish Mystery Series:
(Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon.)
The Big Chili ~ Review
You can read an excerpt of Cheddar Off Dead here.
Julia Buckley is a Chicago-area writer. Her first mystery, THE DARK BACKWARD, was published in 2006; since then she has published the Madeline Mann mysteries and the first in the Teddy Thurber series on Kindle.
She writes two series for Berkley Prime Crime, with debut titles THE BIG CHILI and A DARK AND STORMY MURDER
Buckley is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America, as well as the Chicago Writers Association. She blogs about writing and mysteries at Mysterious Musings, where she has interviewed almost 200 other mystery writers about their work.
She teaches high school English and enjoys reading, playing Words With Friends on Facebook, and spending time with her husband and two sons, along with their menagerie of animals.
Places to find Julia Buckley: