Author: Ann Myers
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon
Type: Mystery Novel in Series
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: Margaritas, spicy guacamole—and murder—are among this year’s preparations for Cinco de Mayo in the second Santa Fe Café mystery novel.
Tres Amigas Café chef Rita Lafitte is busy baking her green chile soufflés and chocolate flans for Cinco de Mayo. If only her friend Linda, the daughter of Rita’s octogenarian boss Flori, could get into the festive spirit. Linda’s cart, Tia Tamales, is losing business to Crepe Empire, the hottest food cart in Santa Fe. Napoleon, Crepe Empire’s owner, is a pompous, celebrity chef who wants to squeeze out the competition. But when Linda gets into a heated argument with Napoleon and his corpse is later found stabbed and pinned beneath the wheels of her tamale cart, she becomes the number one suspect.
Determined to prove Linda’s innocence, Rita investigates. From Napoleon’s disgruntled former employees to a shady health inspector, the list of suspects is longer than Flori’s strings of dried chili peppers. And when another corpse surfaces, Rita must scramble to find an elusive killer with an appetite for murder…
Review: As with any of the great foodie mystery writers, never read when you’re hungry. The gastronomic delights described on each page will only ultimately disappoint. You’ll never be able to find anything in your cabinets or refrigerator that will live up to what you’re reading when you’re searching your kitchen at 1 am in the morning. But I do love a good mystery combined with great food, and this book was scrumptious. Beware to those with elevated tastes, however, because this is New Mexican at its finest, and the chiles make everything caliente!
Santa Fe, with its gorgeous scenery and fabulous cultural influences, creates an unparalleled backdrop for this culinary mystery. Rita Lafitte is busy planning the menu for the Cinco de Mayo celebration at Tres Amigos cafe and a steamer selection for her date that night with lawyer Jake Strong. Unfortunately, things keep getting in the way. Like the food cart wars happening in downtown Santa Fe, which currently involves her boss’s daughter Linda and her tamale cart. Fancy French chef Napoleon is determined to make his cart the best, and he’s not above ugly tricks and strong-arming the other cart owners to gain not only the premium spot but narrow the field. It’s not surprising to anyone when he ends up dead, it’s just where he’s found that is surprising.
It’s obvious to everyone but Rita’s ex, Detective Manny Martin, that someone is framing Linda. Rita begins sleuthing around town while trying to avoid her eager-to-help boss and her assistant. The way things are going, she’s going to need Jake’s legal services before they can have their date!
I really enjoyed the sights and sounds, the food (and recipes!), and the atmosphere that resonated throughout the story. This was a cleverly plotted mystery, and it kept me going to the end. If you’re a fan of the cozy, this book would be a welcome new taste. There’s friendship, food, fellow detectives eager to help, and a brewing romance simmering on the side. Take a trip to New Mexico–I plan to visit again soon!