Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel
Description: Rosalie Hart has finally opened the cafe of her dreams. Decked out with delicious organic fare, the Day Lily Cafe is everything Rosalie could have hoped for. But not five minutes into the grand opening, Doris Bird, a dear and trusted friend, cashes in on a favor - to help clear her little sister Lori of a first degree murder charge. With the help of her best friend and head waiter Glenn, Rosalie is on the case. But it's not going to be easy. Unlikable and provocative, murder victim Carl James Fiddler seems to have insulated nearly everyone in town, and the suspect list grows daily. And when Rosalie's daughter gets caught in the crossfire, the search for the killer becomes personal in this charming cozy perfect for fans of Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke. (from Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: Food and murder are 2 of my favorite things to read about plus I had heard really good things about Wend Sand Eckel's last book - Murder at Barclay Meadow - which I own but for some reason haven't read yet.
Right off the bat Rosalie is an easy character to like and relate too. She's still trying to get completely used to life after her divorce but things are definitely looking up. She's realized a dream with the opening of the cafe and is working hard to make sure that dream stays alive. I thought the employees of the cafe - Glenn, Crystal, and Custer - added a lot of personality to the book as they are all very different and have very distinct personalities but prove able to work together without too much conflict. Custer is especially intriguing as a young man who has many shadows in his past but is obviously trying so hard to stay on the right path. I like that he isn't an open book about everything and draws clear lines between work and his personal life. Glenn is a fantastic side kick and I enjoyed how he and Rosalie worked together. Rosalie's relationship with her daughter Annie was interesting and rang true as a mother and young adult daughter trying to figure out how that relationship works when the child has become an adult but is still dependent. That's a situation that I'm very familiar with and it really rang true here. There's a lot of townspeople and Cafe regulars that add a bit of depth and character to the town and the story. It feels like a real town but without so many people that it gets confusing.
The actual mystery reminded me a little bit of Agatha Christie's Mrs. McGinty's Dead, where the accused is doing absolutely nothing to help himself (well herself in the case of this book) but the people around the accused are determined to figure out what really happened. Lori isn't as unlikable as the accused in the Agatha Christie book but she doesn't always make the smartest decisions. The Sheriff also has his hangups when it comes to this investigation. He isn't completely incompetent but he lets his personal hangups and his own preconceptions heavily influence the way he investigates. Because of all that and because of Rosalie's friend Doris requesting her help it make perfect sense why Rosalie got involved.
The mystery itself was well done. There are lots of little clues and not overdone red herrings through out the book and there are several side mysteries that may or may not be related. Rosalie does make a few jumps in logic but there was logic behind the jumps so it made sense. She also has a TSTL moment at the end but she does take precautions and given her past history with the Sheriff I'm willing to let that pass! I think I'd have done the same in her shoes.
I think I might have appreciated this a little bit more if I had read the first book because I would have understood the relationships a little bit better - especially with Rosalie's business partner Tyler. However, I had no problem getting to know Rosalie and understanding her place in the town and keeping track of the side characters.
This was an entertaining and well done mystery. While it is most definitely a cozy with an amateur detective and low levels of blood and gore I think it would be a good "starter cozy" for those who are new to the genre as the cutesy aspects are at a minimum. Above all, do NOT read this book on an empty stomach. There's lots of food discussions and it all sounds fantastic. I don't even like asparagus but I'd take a big bowl of that soup! Luckily there are some recipes in the back!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes! I have the first book in the series and I'll definitely be reading it as well as looking for the next book.
Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely! If you enjoy a good mystery I'd definitely recommend Wendy Sand Eckel.