This was a departure from the type of books I generally read, however I’m always willing to try new things. So I grabbed a copy of The Bride Wore Dead by EM Kaplan and cracked it open.
Its categories on Amazon put it in the “Mystery / Cozy / Culinary” category. I never knew there was such a category, but I guess it makes sense. Thinking back, I do recall seeing detective shows on the TV where the semi-retired cop was also a chef or something similar, so it stands to reason there would be books of a similar theme.
First, the blurb:
Snarky food critic Josie Tucker usually can soothe any problem with food or drink. Missed bus? Mango-orange smoothie. Mild doldrums? A piece of peppered beef jerky. But lately, she can’t stand the smell of a watery cup of broth. Being at the mercy of an indignant and vengeful stomach is no cup of tea.
So what happens when she gets roped into being the last-minute bridesmaid at a society wedding? The bride’s mother tries to kill her with kindness. Too bad for the bride, Josie won’t be the only victim.
Josie Tucker, the heroine of the story, isn’t a detective at all. She’s a food critic who is having a possible career-ending medical problem of not being able to stomach any food. Roped into being a bridesmaid for someone she doesn’t really know, she complains her way through the sweltering hot ceremony and reception. She makes a lasting impression on both the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom.
So much so that when the bride dies under mysterious circumstances while on her honeymoon, the wealthy mother of the groom enlists Josie’s help to find out if her son was the perpetrator. The police have ruled it a tragic accident, but the mother isn’t so sure. You get the impression early on she’s used her money and influence to bail her sons out of trouble in the past and suspects they may have gone too far this time.
Being a little desperate for cash, Josie accepts Greta’s offer. Since she was going to the resort anyway she figures she could poke around a bit. It takes a while for the whole mystery part of the story to get going, but once it does, I was fully engrossed in the story and couldn’t put it down.
This book has a lot of everything going for it. A great mystery to keep you guessing and a smart-talking, strong female protagonist with enough flaws to feel human and easy to empathise with. At first she’s kind of a hot mess (literally and figuratively) without any brain-to-mouth filter, but as the story progresses you see how complex she is. It’s a credit to Ms Kaplan how real she makes Josie feel.
By the end I loved the cast of characters and will definitely read more of Josie Tucker in the future.
A tasty morsel, definitely moreish. Ms Kaplan is a welcome addition to my “to read” shelves.