Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Review/Giveaway: Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J. A. Lang

It’s autumn in the Cotswolds, and Chef Maurice is facing a problem of mushrooming proportion.

Not only has his wild herb and mushroom supplier, Ollie Meadows, missed his weekly delivery—he’s missing vital signs too, when he turns up dead in the woods near Beakley village.

Soon, Chef Maurice is up to his nose in some seriously rotten business—complete with threatening notes, a pignapping, and an extremely well-catered stake-out.

Can he solve Ollie’s murder before his home-made investigation brings the killer out for second helpings?

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As a huge fan of cozy mysteries, I was ready to read Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle.  As a lover of British comedies, I was quite at home with the appearance of a French chef in a small town (how do you say, "'Allo, 'Allo").  I was not prepared for the laugh-out-loud humor ... but I LOVED IT!

When I read the parts where Maurice spoke, I heard him speak with a French accent.  That could be because I had 5 years of French in public school as well as a course or two at the university.  Or it could be because my mother was born in Switzerland and taught French at home while I was growing up.  Whatever the reason, it added to the humor and hilarity of Spot of Truffle in a delightful way.

The novel starts with a short scene from the life of Hamilton.  By the way, Hamilton is a pig who has nightmares about bacon.  He is worried perhaps that his next trip will be to visit Madame Guillotine.  But fate, and Chef Maurice, have a different plan in mind for the porker.  Pigs have long been used to hunt truffles, and item said to look like a mushroom or potato, but is prized by epicures.  

So Maurice shows up to his restaurant one day, and voila, he has no mushrooms.  He goes to call on Ollie, his forager, who is supposed to deliver to Le Cochon Rouge (The Red Pig), but has not shown up.  Amongst the items found in Ollie's cottage is a bag of what Chef Maurice suspects are the coveted White Alba truffles, worth thousands of pounds.

"Back in the moonlit kitchens of Le Cochon Rouge, Chef Maurice brushed the last specks of soil off his newly acquired prize, with all the love and care of an archaeologist in a hitherto undiscovered royal tomb.
It was only a single truffle, Arthur having forcibly restrained him from 'liberating' more than one sample, but it was a beauty, nonetheless.  he lined a small wooden crate with straw, tucked the turffle in and surrounded it with eggs to keep it company.
Balancing on an upturned bucket, he placed the box reverentially onto the highest shelf in the walk-in fridge, then went to bed." (Chapter 3, Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle; J.A. Lang)
Of course, not all is fun and games.  Ollie turns up dead, discovered by none other than Hamilton the pig on his first training mission with Chef Maurice.  With the same care he devotes to a specialite de la maison, Chef Maurice sets about noticing clues that escape the notice of the police, (but not the murderer(s)).

Let's hope Chef Maurice and Hamilton both have a nice long run in their careers



J.A. Lang is a British mystery writer, and author of the Chef Maurice Mysteries series.

She lives in Oxford, England, with her husband, an excessive number of cookbooks, and a sourdough starter named Bob.



Prize: Win a signed copy of Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle, as well as an extremely cuddly Pillow Pet Pig (RRP $19.99)!  Open to US and UK residents.


Click the link to go to the tour page where you will find other reviews, and several interviews.  You can also apply to become a reviewer for Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours!

(Disclosure:  I received an e-copy of this book from the author and publishers via GEVBT in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

1 comment:

  1. :D This looks like a cute read!