Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Calamity Café (A Down South Café Mystery #1)

Author:  Gayle Leeson
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #: 9781101990780; 9781520017044
Berkley Obsidian
304 Pages
$6.80; $23.54; $7.99 Amazon
June 7, 2016


Tired of waiting tables at Lou's Joint, Amy Flowers doesn't just quit - she offers to buy the place from her bully of a boss so she can finally open the café of her dreams.  Amy can't wait to serve the kind of down-home Southern treats and dishes that her grandmother always loved to the kooky cast of regulars at the restaurant.  She knows her comfort food will be the talk of the sweet small town of Winter Garden, Virginia.

At first Lou Lou refuses to sell, but when she seems ready to make a deal, Amy goes to see her.  Showing up at the eatery ready to negotiate, Amy is shocked to find her former employer murdered.  As the prime suspect, Amy will have to clear her name by serving up the real killer - and with Lou Lou's stack of enemies, that's a tall order.


Amy Flowers lives in Winter Garden, Virginia and works at a diner, Lou Lou's Joint - and hates her job.  She trained as a chef out of state but moved home when her grandmother became ill.  When her Nana passed away, she left her some money.  Now Amy wants to buy the Joint and open her dream café, but Lou Lou won't sell.

That evening Amy receives a call from Lou Lou's son Pete, and he tells her he's convinced his mother to sell, and would she meet him at the diner, which she agrees to do.  But when Amy arrives, the only person there is Lou Lou...and she's not going anywhere.  She's dead, and when Amy can gather herself, she calls the police.

Amy discovers she's a person of interest because she found the body, and even though Deputy Ryan Hall tells her he doesn't believe she's guilty, she still doesn't want it hanging over her head, so decides to do a little investigating of her own.  But when she inadvertently gets a little too close to the truth, the killer gets a little too close to her...

I did like this book.  I didn't understand, though, why Amy would be so intent on finding the killer when Deputy Hall told her that she wasn't suspected of murder.  She somehow had it in her head that she was going to be arrested, and hyperventilated at the thought of it, and this spurred her on to find a murderer.  There was nothing pointing to her being guilty, and no one thought she was capable or even had a real reason, yet she was convinced in her mind that it was so.

While Amy isn't stupid enough to walk into situations that will get her killed, she shares all of her findings with Deputy Hall - but he, in turn, doesn't share his information with her, which is exactly how it should be.  He keeps his cards close to his chest, and isn't giving her anything she can run with, which is his way of keeping her safe.

However, I did feel that she went to tears and panic a little too quickly; and that didn't ring true for someone who wanted to investigate the way she did.  If she's going to be doing this, she needs to get her emotions under control.

Her friends are also an interesting bunch: she works with Jackie, a lifelong friend, and Roger (also a lifelong friend) is doing the construction on her new restaurant, and both seem like they have their heads on straight.  Homer is quite deep in his own way, with a new hero every day that he quotes every so often, and more to the point, his quotes fit right in with what's going on.  A pretty decent bunch.  The one I don't care for is the head of the Chamber of Commerce, who's angry he couldn't get the diner and raze it, but he wasn't in the story much and I sure hope he doesn't become the 'evil nemesis' who wants to make Amy miserable.  Even Amy's mom and Aunt Bess are great; and I've taken a liking to Pete, who unfortunately goes from one bad situation to another.

The only thing that seemed odd to me were the many characters who were left by their fathers at an early age; that much didn't seem realistic, and it bothered me a tad.  I can't see that Amy and her friends would have been raised in single-parent households and still trusted men.  It didn't ring true.

I did find that the book was written well, and I thought the plot was interesting; and I felt that the story is put together nicely, with Amy following a trail to find out who hated Lou Lou enough to kill her, and there are a plethora of suspects she needs to sift through.  The woman wasn't well-liked by anyone, treated her employees horribly, and doted on her son.  So Amy does a lot of thinking that we are privy to, and eventually comes to a conclusion at the same time as the killer.

When the ending comes and the killer is revealed, there's a bit of a climactic scene, but Amy doesn't lose her head, preferring to keep it right where it is, thank-you-very-much.  And while it isn't at all a nail-biter, it's still done well, and I liked the way everything tied up together.  This book is a quick and easy read with a pretty good ending.  Recommended.é-Down-South-Mystery/dp/1101990783/ref


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