Friday, May 25, 2012
Let Them Eat Stake by Sarah Zettel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3.5 stars. It's a cozy mystery, it's fun if you like that sort of thing, and I do. But it does have all of the failings of the typical cozy too. Chef Charlotte keeps saying that she knows that the situation is problematic and that she probably should walk away, but she doesn't because she doesn't let anyone lie to her and that she can handle any situation. Miss Attitude, even though she does keep referencing that she did almost die the last time she "played Nancy Drew," she barely considers that she might be in danger in this time or that she might get in over her head. Even though again she's involved with witches, warlocks and mind-controlling vampires who have reason to dislike her. And all she has is a spray bottle of garlic-infused holy water and her wits. I know chefs are arrogant, but come on. If she was more concerned with the money that she needs to keep her restaurant open or the fact that her getting the job was already in the press and that backing out would be a PR disaster, then it would have made more sense than just curiosity and ballsiness. But it's typical cozy behavior and you do just have to accept that kind of thing when you read the genre.
The mystery was generally good, but it got overly complicated by the end, too messy. And there was some way too convenient plotting. Like when Charlotte's friend Minnie was introduced just in time to get a job at Oscar's restaurant and then was able to pass Charlotte the key to his office. Plus what was a regular cook doing with keys to the dead owner's office after one day on the job?
And now that I think about it, we never did find out why someone picked Charlotte for the job. Did I miss it? Deanna said she liked the restaurant, but Charlotte didn't think that was it, she thought there was a deeper, more suspicious reason. Huh.
The romance was pretty typical too. Charlotte likes Boy 1, Brendan, the handsome warlock, but they're both super busy with their jobs and she's afraid to commit or get at all serious. And she also likes Boy 2, Anatole, the charming vampire, but he's a restaurant critic and an association with him would make his good review of her restaurant look suspicious, But she keeps stringing him along too. Both relationships are very mild, it's not a hot, sexy romance novel. It's really much more about the mystery than the romance, but publishers love that love triangle, so, check!
As for the paranormal aspects, for a book with so many vampires, witches and warlocks in it, not much paranormal behavior happens. Don't expect any huge magical battles or wild vampire orgies. Paranormals have been integrated into this society, they're mostly just people like everyone else, or at least that's the tone. Figuring out what the witches or vampires might do, or what threat they might present, is part of the story, but it's mostly pretty civilized. I'm not expressing it very well. But if you're reading the book just because you love paranormals then you might be disappointed, the book is really about the chef trying to solve a mystery involving the paranormals.. On the other hand, if you like cozy mysteries about chefs and normally don't read paranormal romances, give this a try, I bet you find it a fun crossover. There, that's what I'm trying to say, it should appeal to both crowds because it's not crazy wild paranormal, just full of interesting characters with understandable motivations, a few of whom might have a few different abilities is all.
The depiction of the restaurant business continues to be very interesting and detailed without feeling cumbersome. The author definitely works the business and cooking aspects into the story in a lot of nice ways to both move the tale along and flesh out certain scenes to make them feel comfortable and real. The writing overall is very vivid and readable, it's a very enjoyable read. I just keep hoping for more from this author because I know she's capable of it. A cute little formula/checklist cozy mystery is nice, but she could do better.
Annoyed little note: would a guy like Brendan text l8tr? Seriously, he can't be bothered with one more letter to write a real word? He's kind of a formal guy. Especially the second time when he was home and not in a rush. (p260) It's not important to the story, obviously, just one of those things that annoys me in general and also didn't feel genuine to the character. I get when he was in a rush or maybe in danger and did the whole ...wish u wr here thing, but l8tr from an educated guy in an otherwise complete sentence irritated me.
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