Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Crepes of Wrath: A Pancake House Mystery

by Sarah Fox
Alibi       2016
257 pages     Cozy Mystery

The setup of The Crepes of Wrath is good. Marley comes to the small beachfront Washington community to help out her cousin Jimmy who has landed in the hospital with pneumonia. Jimmy runs a popular diner in Wildwood Cove called The Flipside Pancake House. Marley takes a leave of absence from her job as a legal assistant in Seattle to help out. We never meet Jimmy because he is murdered on his way home from the hospital. At that point, Marley becomes consumed with trying to figure out who has murdered him. The town is small and everyone becomes a suspect in Marley's eyes.

The setting is also good. The Crepes of Wrath takes place off season in a small beach community. I could visualize the spot and the people who live there. The Flipside Pancake House restaurant reminded me a bit of Gull Landing, the little restaurant in our vacation spot of Pentwater Michigan. It stays open all winter and only serves the community. The Victorian house that Marley inherits when Jimmy dies sits on the beach, but houses are being torn down all around it to make way for new development, which of course, is an anathema to the townspeople. Hence the tension in the community and potential murderers who may want Jimmy's beach front property.

The plot moves along rapidly, which is good, and the climax is a bit of a surprise. I found myself engrossed in the final chapters as it becomes more and more dangerous for Marley to move around in the community as she seeks to solve the murder. Although there was foreshadowing as to who the murderer might be, I was surprised when the murderer was revealed.

What is totally lacking in The Crepes of Wrath is a reason to read the book. I felt that the author Sarah Fox was just going through the motions—clicking off all the components of a cozy mystery—setting (check), motive (check), recipes (check). As a reader, I never connected with the characters. Even though the story is told through the eyes of Marley, we never really know her, and we know her love interest, Brett even less. And speaking of love interest, both of these characters—Marley and Brett—are supposed to be in their thirties, but this is the most chaste, 14-year-old romance ever. (Would readers of cozy mysteries be offended if the main characters did more than just feel "the electricity" between them.)  Romance (check)!

If you want to know what a cozy mystery should contain, I refer you to the Cozy Mystery blog, which gives you a run-down of all the components. And oh, by the way, the recipes at the end of the book are very good. If the rest of the book were only as good as the recipes. . .

So, why waste time reading a so-so cozy mystery? For the same reason that we sometimes mindlessly click through TV channels or flip on ridiculous websites; our brains need a rest. It had been a rough week, and I needed a rest. Now, I am ready to tackle meatier fare. Oh, and by the way, have you watched The Night Of on HBO?

The Crepes of Wrath is available as an ebook for $3.99. Cheap therapy!

Here's a review by a blogger who felt like I did about the Crepes of Wrath.

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