Death and a Pot of Chowder
I received this book for free from the facebook copy “Cozy Mystery Review Crew” in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and reflect my honest feelings about this book!
Maine’s Quarry Island has a tight-knit community that’s built on a rock-solid foundation of family, tradition and hard work. But even on this small island, where everyone knows their neighbors, there are secrets that no one would dare to whisper.
Anna Winslow, her husband Burt and their teenage son have deep roots on Quarry Island. Burt and his brother, Carl, are lobstermen, just like their father and grandfather before them. And while some things on the island never seem to change, Anna’s life is about to take some drastically unexpected turns. First, Anna discovers that she has a younger sister, Izzie Jordan. Then, on the day she drives to Portland to meet Izzie for the first time, Carl’s lobster boat is found abandoned and adrift. Later that evening, his corpse is discovered—but he didn’t drown.
Whether it was an accident or murder, Carl’s sudden death has plunged Anna’s existence into deadly waters. Despite barely knowing one another and coming from very different backgrounds, Anna and Izzie unite to find the killer. With their family in crisis, the sisters strive to uncover the secrets hidden in Quarry Island—and, perhaps, the ones buried within their own hearts.
Sure to be an intoxicating read for fans of Sarah Graves and Leslie Meier, Death and a Pot of Chowder is the first Maine Murder mystery by Cornelia Kidd.
Whenever I get a book for review (read “for free”) I always want to enjoy it so much. I want to be able to glowingly say I loved it and only write positive things about it. I want to build it up so much. Sometimes that isn’t plausible or realistic though. Some books are just not a book for you. This was one of those books. I will, however, say that I was able to get through the entire book because of it being a mystery. There is a part of my brain that will forever want to know “whodunit” and that part of my brain pushed me forward even though I wasn’t engaged as much as I would have liked with the story.
I want to state first that I am fairly new to the world of cozy mystery books, I grew up on television shows like “Murder, She Wrote” that are obviously similar. Recently, I finished a buddy read that made me recognize that I had a deep appreciation for the mystery genre and especially the cozy mystery format. Cozy mysteries with their small town relationships, their wholesomeness (even with murder being involved), and just that weird warmth that you get from such a book. I love seeing a world that I once was a part of when I lived in a smaller town. I understand those close knit communities and honestly love seeing them in print. The issue here though is a cozy mystery book has two words within its genre title. Cozy and mystery. These elements should be balanced. In this book, however, it feels that for far too many pages we were stuck in the cozy and not enough of the mystery. It felt that the characters that were supposed to be investigating the death in the book were more invested in other matters or simply acquiring knowledge through people literally coming to their door. The fun of a cozy mystery and other mystery novels, to me, is when the character goes sleuthing to discover clues. To gather information and often times this means the main character snooping in areas that maybe they shouldn’t be. Putting their life in a little bit of danger during the process. In cozies, the danger tends to be a little more mundane, but it is still there at times. This seemed to be lacking in that element until the “reveal” part of the book. Up to that moment it was like everyone was just talking and not really trying to figure out the murder. This book was definitely more cozy than mystery and that was my chief complaint with it.
Another issue that I had with this book was that characters, especially Anna, didn’t seem to respond in ways that I would think most people would in the situations that they were placed in. No one just tells people everything and that felt like what these characters did throughout the book. Anna didn’t seem to understand that she was the mother of Jake, her son, and that she was allowed to discipline him and say you are not going to respond to me in certain ways. No, I am not a parent, but let me say that if I was I would never respond the way that Anna does in this book. It was frustrating to read. I even tried to analyze it as that I was never a parent, but seriously there are moments where I couldn’t move past it. Many times I felt that I wanted Izzie, her new sister, to say something to her. Having a moment where the kid is mad and screaming he doesn’t want to talk to her would have felt a bit more organic than what happens within this book. It felt like she was treating her child like a roommate! Yes, this upset me greatly.
Now, I did enjoy the character of Izzie and her overall storyline. It is weird to say, but I think I would have enjoyed the story if it had been from her viewpoint. Maybe my issue is that Anna wasn’t the narrator I wanted in this tale. I wanted the perspective of Izzie, especially because there are several moments that Izzie’s perspective would have been interesting to see. Also the narrator seemed to use her a couple of times to “time warp” the plot basically. The character would go off and solve something for the case, hear something, find something, or etc, but always off the page basically. This got frustrating after the 3 time it occurred. I want some of those things on the page in scenes. Izzie, even though she is used in this manner, is still by far the best character to me. She has dreams, hopes, aspirations, and so much more. I loved that she was able to give some of that to the main character as well. I feel that in another book in the series that we would learn so much more about Izzie. There seems to be elements about her and her life that are still a mystery. I fear, however, that there will not be more books to this particular series. The writer has announced that they have been diagnosed with cancer. Finding this out made it slightly hard to review the book, since I had not had such a pleasant experience with it. I realized, however, that I was supposed to give an honest review. This is my honest feelings about the book, but I should leave it with this. I would read another book, if there was one. I would want to find out what happens to Izzie and that makes me realize that there was some positive to this book. I believe that other cozy mystery readers, that have been around the cozy block more than me, would enjoy this book. They would enjoy the focus on the cozy elements. This book does have an audience. I just wasn’t the intended audience for this one.
Cornelia Kidd is a pseudonym for the author, Lea wait. The above books are some of the books that she has published under her other name.