Lights, Camera, Murder! by Marie Celine

LCMurderGourmet Pet Chef (we’ll get back to that bit in a mo) Kitty Karlyle is going up in the world. After solving a murder in Dishing Up Death, she’s got her big break in television – a chance to host the pet cooking show “The Pampered Pet”. But no sooner has the pilot been filmed but she finds the producer in her office, stabbed to death with one of Kitty’s own kitchen knives.

Kitty should be able to relax, given that her fiancé Jack works for the local police force, but it seems that his new boss has her eye on both Jack and Kitty – but for different reasons, obviously. So Kitty, with her new friend Fran, take investigating matters into their own hands. But when it seems that everyone – including some of Kitty’s best clients – had history with the producer, Kitty will have her hands full both with finding a killer and with keeping her job.

Yup, it’s cozy time. I know I’m on a Golden Age run at the moment on the blog, but I asked for this review copy before I decided that, so fair’s fair. As you know, I’m not as averse to the odd cozy – and by cozy, I mean the multitude of titles, mostly published in the US, concerning a lead character (usually female) with a distinctive job, close circle of friends and usually a pet (several in this case), who solves crimes because the police are basically useless.

And, as I’ve pointed out before, these bear little resemblance to what some people refer to as “cozy” – namely Dame Agatha and her contemporaries. More often than not, they resemble Noir novels in structure – our hero interrogates everyone one at a time, gets occasionally threatened, and then after the second or third attempt on their life, the murderer steps out from the shadows. The method of solution is basically to irritate the murderer into showing their face and then hoping that they can outwit them before they join the list of victims. The only real exception (and it’s a big exception) is the Chef Maurice books by J A Lang – those are properly clued.

And if you accept that structure (and I know many of my readers won’t without the darkness of Chandler) then there can be a lot of fun to be had with books like this. It comes down to how much fun a read the book is, both as a romp through the suspects and as a game of “Guess Who?”.

And this one is perfectly fine – I’ve read better (“The Long Quiche Goodbye” by Avery Aames springs to mind) but I’ve read an awful lot worse as well. Kitty is a fun character, although the rationale for not enlisting her boyfriend’s help is a bit weak, and it all trundle along nicely. A couple of sections towards the end (but before the reveal) felt a little padded and the notion that absolutely everybody seemed to have a relationship with the producer at some point in time stretches coincidence even in this genre, but at the end of the day, this was a fun, inoffensive read.

Needless to say, it include pet recipes – well, ingredients for such recipes – a method would have been useful. For example, am I supposed to feed my cat cooked or raw chicken? (Answer: neither – cat food pouches and the occasional tin of tuna works fine).

By the way, if you haven’t heard of Marie Celine, then you may have read other books by him under the other pseudonyms Nick Lewis or J R Ripley or his real name, Glenn Meganck.

So, if you spot it in the library, why not pick it up? Definitely Worth A Look if you’re a fan of the genre.

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5 comments

  1. I note that of the 3 pseudonyms of the author, one is a female name. Was the character of Ethelred Tressider (L C Tyler) inspired by him ?

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