Toast Mortum – Inn at Hemlock Falls #16
by Claudia Bishop
(Berkley Prime Crime)
Rating: Like Watching Paint Dry
This book had nothing to do with toast. Which means somebody made up the cutesy title as a marketing ploy — probably the editors at Berkley. Do we need another boring mystery with recipes and cardboard characters? The answer is no.
Somebody killed the nasty, unbelievably stereotyped villain, French chef Bernard LeVasque, a cross between Chef Ramsay and Napoleon. He’s so unbelievable, I don’t care when he turns up dead. I don’t care who killed him, either.
There were a mind-numbing 40 characters in this book — too many to keep track of. Most of them were dumb cut-outs who had several motives for the murder, of course, which is the only reason they’re in the story. Quill, the main character and proprietor of the Inn, has a very annoying two-year old son, who I could have done without. Ditto for the Maine Coon cat named Bismarck, who was given so much ‘air time’, I thought for a moment he was the murderer.
This novel is touted as another ‘delightful cozy’ from Berkley, which I’m now convinced really means ‘boring as hell, but we at Berkley are too chicken shit to take a chance on something innovative and fresh, and we’re convinced readers don’t mind — hell, throw in a few recipes to placate them and it’s all good.