Welcome the start of a great new series!
The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames is the first in the brand new "Cheese Shop" mysteries.
Charlotte Bessette is preparing for the grand opening of her Fromagerie Bessette, or "The Cheese Shop" as the locals call it. While greeting guests and sharing her knowledge of all things cheesy, a well-known member of the community is stabbed right outside the shop with one of Charlotte's favorite olive-wood handled knives!
It turns out that many people would have a motive for killing Ed Woodhouse, but when Charlotte's grandmother Bernadette is spotted near the body with a bloody knife in her hands and blood all over her dress, it doesn't take long for the local police chief to name her as the prime suspect.
Now it's up to Charlotte to prove her "Grandmere's" innocence all the while taking care of her cousin's twin daughters, and trying to manage Fromagerie Bessette.
This was a wonderful debut. I love reading the first in a new series, to get the background info you need for the rest the series to take a foothold.
Set in Providence, Ohio, The premise behind Fromagerie Bessette is ideal. It is located close to the Amish community, and actually, one of the characters - Rebecca, who works in the cheese shop, is a former member of the Amish community.
Charlotte's parents died in a car crash when she was a young girl and she was raised by her French grandparents. She and her cousin Matthew have "inherited" Fromagerie Bessette from them (they are retired, but still play a big role in the running of the shop). Both Charlotte and Matthew are very well learned in the art of cheese making, although they do not make the cheese themselves. It is contracted out to local farmers, as is the wine they have in the shop's "wine annex".
This is such an eclectic setting and background for a mystery, and I really liked the different "culinary" twist of this series.
I guess it helps to be a big cheese lover (and liking wine doesn't hurt, either) because there are so many little cheesy tidbits thrown in the story here and there. Charlotte really knows her stuff, and when she described some of the cheeses she sells and serves, it made me wish I had a platter of it in front of me, so I could snack as I read! Learning about Brie and different goat's milk cheeses that are good paired with certain white and red wines was entertaining as well as educational!
The "regular" characters that I assume will be in follow-up mysteries were solid and believable. Between Grandmere and Pepere who are Charlotte's grandparents, and her cousin Matthew, Charlotte has a great supporting cast, if you will. Not to mention Rebecca, who is just getting her feet wet in the secular world. She provided a lot of comic relief with her detective skills honed from such t.v. shows as Law & Order, and Murder, She Wrote. Of course, there are characters we love to hate, too... such as Kristine Woodhouse, widow of the murder victim, who is also running for town mayor against Charlotte's grandmother.
All in all, I really enjoyed The Long Quiche Goodbye (great title!). The mystery itself was a little difficult for me to follow because there were a lot of "extras" in the cast, and sometimes it was hard for me to keep track of who was who. But I have felt that way with many firsts in new series'. Maybe because it's the first time I've been introduced to these characters, and I need to commit them to memory first to learn who is who. Much like a teacher needs to learn the names of all her new students on the first day of a new school year.
Now that I am acquainted with the residents of Providence, I look forward to getting to know them better. And I can't wait to try some of Charlotte's cheesy suggestions!
Scheduled for release July 6, 2010, The Long Quiche Goodbye is available for pre-order now.
*****this book was graciously sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way to provide a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.